Alex Iwobi

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‘I ran off celebrating and I almost cried’

A regular for Nigeria at just 21 years of age, Alex Iwobi has already written his name into his country’s history books.

The forward came off the bench to score a late winner against Zambia last month, and send the Super Eagles to their sixth World Cup finals.

Here’s what he had to say about the moment:

on how it felt to score the goal that sent Nigeria to the World Cup… 
It’s so hard to describe, you know what I mean. When I actually scored the moment was crazy, I remember running off celebrating. I almost cried, I actually almost cried to see how the fans were reacting, to see my mum and dad in the stands, it was just an amazing feeling. 

on what the atmosphere was like when he scored… 
When I scored the goal, because the security are very strict the fans were trying to come on the pitch as I scored, but the security guards stopped them and after the fans they played trumpets and banged drums, so the players were just dancing, it was just crazy.

on representing Nigeria… 
Yeah it’s basically my family, where they’re from, where I’m from it’s my homeland, so it’s always an honour to wear the green, white and green, I mean I’ve seen so many kids on the street when we’re like in the bus, they’re screaming “go Nigeria, go Nigeria”, so to represent them I’m just proud.

on what it means to him to play for his country… 
It makes me feel grateful for what I have, because I’ve always grown up in England, so I didn’t really know what it was like back then. When I go back I see how people struggle in life, it’s not as easy as it is over here, so it gives me that reality check, but also I try to help people out there as well.

on bringing such happiness to the Nigerian fans… 
It was the way they were like… it was almost like everyone won the lottery, they were just jumping. To go to the World Cup you can see it’s not just the players’ dream, it’s the fans’ dream as well and for me to get the goal for us to go through I’m just proud to do that.


Wenger - Why Iwobi opted for Nigeria

Alex Iwobi is well on the way to establishing himself as a hero in Nigeria.

The nephew of iconic former No 10, Jay-Jay Okocha, our midfielder scored the goal that took the Super Eagles to next summer’s World Cup when he netted the winner against Zambia in Uyo last month.

Iwobi was born in Nigeria but grew up in London and has represented England at youth level. He’s now an established member of the Super Eagles squad - but is Arsène Wenger surprised he elected to play for the country of his birth?

“He had the potential to play for England and for Nigeria,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “Today he looks very happy with Nigeria. When I speak to him, he’s had very positive experiences. 

“He brings his quality to Nigeria - he’s absolutely a creative player going forward. He’s very strong in small spaces and he’s starting to score goals as well. 

“For a while it was open between England and Nigeria, and England didn’t really push for Alex during that period. Nigeria were more willing to have him. I’ve seen many times that sons of parents from Nigeria want to go back to their parents’ country.”


Wenger - This is what I want from Iwobi

Alex Iwobi was a minor doubt for Sunday’s game, but not only was he passed fit to play, he was one of our standout performers.

Iwobi roamed across the front line to drag Brighton’s defenders out of position and had a couple of half-chances before sealing our win with a confident finish from Alexis’ backheel.

Iwobi is still just 21 but Arsene Wenger puts plenty of faith in him - and he believes he can do even more.

“I think he’s a kind of player who has a good availability,” said the boss in his post-match press conference. “He helps you a lot to get out of pressure when you are in a build up game and creates spaces.

“What you want from him is final balls and goals as well. A player like him must score 10 goals and he must as well give between six and 10 assists and that’s what I want from him.”

Sead Kolasinac put in another solid shift on the left and also earned praise from the boss after the Brighton game.

“I believe that it’s satisfaction since he arrived here,” he said. “You know why nobody talks about him so much, because the transfer amount was not excessive, but what is important is the quality of his performances. I am very happy with his performances.”


Can you answer these 10 tricky questions on Iwobi?

Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi has been impressing us ever since he made his senior debut back in 2015.

The exciting youngster came through our academy to become a first-team regular and a Nigeria international, but how well do you know him?

Find out by taking our quiz: