3 November 2018
Arsenal and Nigeria international midfielder Alex Iwobi revealed this morning on the BBC’s Football Focus that he is now known by team-mates at the Emirates as “The Prince of Nutmegs” because of the number of times he has beaten opponents by putting the ball through their legs (“nutmegged” in English football parlance).
Iwobi seems to have grown in confidence this season at the club he joined from primary school aged nine. He said that back then while playing football with other kids he wanted to be Thierry Henry, the French international striker who became a legend at Arsenal and has a statue in his honour at the Emirates Stadium.
Another source of inspiration for the 22 year old was his uncle and legendary Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha, who also skippered Bolton in the Premier League. Iwobi said his dad, Chuka, took him to watch Okocha at training and in matches for Bolton.
Iwobi had flitted in and out of the Arsenal first team since making is senior debut under then coach and mentor Arsene Wenger in 2015. But he seems to have grown in stature this season under new coach Unai Emery. He accepted that this season is “the most confident I’ve been for a long while, the manager has given me a lot of confidence”.
The attacking midfielder added that Emery is “a very positive guy and has given me freedom to express myself”. The Arsenal coach is a very animated presence at the touchline during games and Iwobi revealed that the Spaniard is like that in meetings and training. The coach’s drive seems to have had a positive influence on Iwobi, who seemed a bit laid-back and inconsistent in previous seasons.
Former Manchester United striker Dion Dublin, a guest in the studio, said he would love to see Iwobi move on from being the “Prince of Nutmegs” to the “Prince of Goals” at Arsenal. Dublin also acknowledged that the youngster was “putting his stamp on Arsenal”.
Iwobi has played 12 times for his club this season with one goal. If he adds goals to his ball-playing skills, the “prince” could become the “King of the Emirates” like his idol Henry. Arsenal fans would be looking forward to more nutmegs, assists and perhaps, goals from the much-improved Iwobi, starting from what he described as a “tough game” – this evening’s encounter at home against high-flying Liverpool.