AFEfootballnews takes a closer look at one of Arsenal’s most promising young stars ahead of what could be a career defining season for the player.
Iwobi was born in Lagos, Nigeria in May of 1996 before moving to England when he was just four years old. He is the nephew of Premier League legend and former Bolton Wanderers man, Jay-Jay Okocha. Due to his duel nationality, he could have played for either England or Nigeria and although he progressed his way through England’s youth teams he decided to represent Nigeria at senior level. On the 8th of October 2015, Iwobi made his first international appearance, replacing new Leicester City striker, Ahmed Musa in the 57th minute of a 2–0 friendly defeat to DR Congo. He’s since managed to rack up 6 caps for his country.
He made his senior Premier League debut for Arsenal against Swansea City in a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium in October 2015 and after being handed his first start in the first team he scored against Everton at Goodison Park, before scoring against Watford the following week. He ended the season with 2 goals in 13 Premier League games and drew praise from many pundits across the country.
Much is expected of this young man and having taken Alexis Sanchez’s number 17 shirt (after Sanchez chose number 7 for the upcoming season) ahead of the 2016/17 season, he has big boots to fill. In Arsenal’s pre-season, he’s been on fire, bagging goals against Viking FK (2) and Manchester City, as well as assisting some of his team mates goals, so he’s certainly looking in fine shape.
In a recent interview with FourFourTwo, Iwobi cited a rather unlikely former player as the man he looked up to when he was growing up:
“I wanted my hair like Ivan Campo’s at one point. My mum told me to calm down!”
The crazy haired Spanish midfielder played alongside Iwobi’s uncle, Okocha, during his time at Bolton Wanderers and although Iwobi and Campo have two bery different playing styles, he seemed to admire his work. However, he later added that his uncle was in fact the biggest role model during his childhood:
“One flick he taught me took a month to learn. But when I did it it in a junior match I thought: ‘Wow, I can do it!’ I’ve always looked at him as a role model, and he’s always told me to express myself.”
It’s believed that Okocha was the one who persuaded Iwobi to sign for Arsenal when he was just 8 years old and it now appears as though it could have been an excellent decision on his uncle’s behalf.
A technically gifted player with blistering pace and a seemingly ever-improving eye for goal, Iwobi could be one to watch this season as the Gunners aim to end their 13 year wait for a Premier League title.