With Arsenal fans in mutinous mood following successive exits from the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League title contention, it took a 19 year old from their academy and born in Lagos to lift their spirits.
Alex Iwobi, who has played two games for Nigeria, in his first start for the Gunners in the Premier League, following an impressive start on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou against Barcelona, scored the second goal and his first senior goal for Arsenal just before half-time to ensure victory for his team, with a composed finish that would have made his uncle and Nigerian legend Jay-Jay Okocha very proud.
It was a Man of the Match performance for the lad who joined the Arsenal academy as an 8 year old. His under pressure boss Arsene Wenger was full of praise: “He is an intelligent boy who loves the ball. He is very passionate about the game and wants to learn. I took him to train with the first team in pre-season and liked what I saw. He’s been improving quickly, month-by-month. That is why I integrated him into the team”.
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Danny Welbeck got the Gunners going finishing a great move by rounding the Everton goalie in the 7th minute. But the day would be remembered for Iwobi announcing himself as a player that belongs to the first team, with his confidence, demanding the ball, taking responsibility and using the ball well.
Iwobi praised Welbeck after the game: “I’m enjoying training and playing with him. He’s given me confidence and he’s always helping me out and giving me advice and I’m enjoying playing with him.”
He was happy with his first start in the Premier League: “Yeah it was not bad. I enjoyed the moment. I’m happy that the team won and that’s the positive that we’re going to take onto the next.”
Another pleased person was uncle Okocha, who tweeted: “So pleased with Alexi’s performance this afternoon. Delighted he got his first Premiership goal… So proud of him. Well done Ojiogwu.”
“Ojiogwu” loosely translates as “someone with magic” in Okocha’s native Igbo and appears to be a family nickname for Iwobi. Arsenal and Nigeria fans would look forward to many more years of magic from the two-footed midfielder.