Barely six months after hanging up his boots following a lengthy playing career Wilbraham, Shrewsbury’s assistant, was thrust into the limelight, stepping in for his boss when the manager was checked into hospital with Covid-19.
Former striker Wilbraham, 41 – nicknamed Alby within football – has impressed onlookers with the way he has conducted himself so early into his coaching career, as well as his role in helping ensure Town reached League One safety.
Salop contest their penultimate fixture of a testing campaign tonight, with the visit of mid-table Ipswich to Montgomery Waters Meadow.
“Aaron only just stopped playing, he’s got unbelievable experience as a player over 20-odd years,” said Longwell, who stepped up into a first-team coaching role from academy manager.
“That transition from player to coach is difficult but I think he’s made it seamlessly, because of his personality.
“Seeing him every day, he gets on with everybody because there’s such a good manner about him. The manager brought him in because he’s trustworthy, his loyalty, work ethic, he’s such a great example. That’s who he is as a man.
“Right away from first meeting him you just knew he was a good person, and because of those values and characteristics, it makes it easier to make the transition.”
Wilbraham, who clocked up almost 800 senior games, enjoyed a successful stint under Cotterill at Bristol City, which included a league and cup double. The Cheshire-based coach spent barely a month with Cotterill, after the manager gave him his break, throughout December before having to step in.
Longwell, who has built a close friendship and working relationship with Wilbraham, continued: “The manager is so hands-on, with him not being here, it was up to Aaron to pick up the reins of it, he had to become the face of it, to drive things, and he’s done a really good job.
“He’s stood up and been counted. We’ve got good staff and the manager’s still been there.
“It’s been challenging for Aaron, from players to staff the hours double, if not treble.
“And it’s even more demanding without the manager here.
“He’s handled it extremely well.
“His impact has been indescribable to be honest.”