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One to watch: Arsenal's young talent is on the rise

A STAR IS BORN: Alex Iwobi in action

NIGERIA AND Arsenal have been boosted by the emergence of Alex Iwobi.

At just 20, Iwobi has proved that a bright future lies ahead after breaking into the Gunners’ side last term.

Iwobi was born in Lagos before moving to England at the age of four and is the nephew of ex professional footballer Jay-Jay Okocha.

Rodney Hinds, Sports Editor for The Voice caught-up with the forward as he talked about future targets, his famous uncle and how he relaxes away from the game:

Q: In terms of your career, are you where you expected to be right now, a regular starter, influencing matches and scoring goals?

A: I never expected to be here at the age of 20, it’s not been the easiest of routes and I’ve had many ups and downs, I was almost released at 14, again at 16, so to be making an impact and helping the team is great for me

Q: What targets have you set for yourself this season?

A: My targets this season are to add more goals, more assists, make more appearances and do my best for the team.


EAGLE IN FLIGHT: Alex Iwobi in play for Arsenal

Q: How do you relax away from football?

A: I’m a chilled person, I relax at home with family or catch up with my close friends. We always have a busy schedule so I prefer to spend my off time with loved ones.

Q: Do you see yourself always playing for Arsenal?

A: Yes I do.

Q: Do you feel footballers are censored too much? In one breath everyone wants to know about you and what you do and in another breath, you can’t really say what you’d like – what do you think about that dynamic?

A: I don’t focus on what people think about footballers, I’m just myself and keep it natural. There are pros and cons to every profession, so I try to focus on the things I can control and leave the rest to others.

Q: What team did you support when you were a youngster?

A: I’ve always supported Arsenal.


BALL CONTROL: Alex Iwobi and Burnley's Dean Marney, right, battling for possession

Q: How would you describe your relationship with Arsene Wenger? How has he helped you?

A: I have a good relationship with the boss. He’s one of the best managers in the world and to be learning under him is a great for me, he’s brought a lot of world class players through. He’s helped me by showing faith in me and trusting me in big games, this has given me confidence to go out and play.

Q: You are part of a young and talented Nigeria side. What can the Super Eagles achieve over the coming years?

A: I’m confident we can succeed; we definitely have the players to. So long as we continue to work hard, have the right attitude and play to the best of our ability I’m sure we will go from strength to strength.

Q: How influential has your uncle Jay-Jay been in your career?

A: He’s been very influential on my career. I’ve always looked up to my uncle. I still look up to him now. He has supported me from the very beginning, always helping me on and off the pitch.


CELEBRATION: Fellow Arsenal player Nacho Monreal, left, with Alex Iwobi after the team score

Q: Who is the most skillful player in the squad?

A: Arsenal is a team blessed with internationals. The quality of the training sessions is amazing. I feel privileged to be a part of the team. I would say that the most skilful player is Santi Carzola. He seems to have eyes at the back of his head, his passing and all round play is definitely world class.

Q: Which three players do you look up to?

A: I would like to give a special mention to my idol and mentor uncle Jay-Jay for his guidance, Thierry Henry for his encouraging role during my development at Arsenal and Jack Wilshere as he is a Hale End product just like myself, so growing up I have always looked at him for inspiration.

Q: If you weren’t a footballer what would you have done?

A: I have always wanted to be a footballer and what better way to earn a living than being paid to do what you have always loved doing. If I weren’t a professional footballer, I’m sure my parents would have insisted I went to university.

Q: Who is the best at FIFA at Arsenal?

A: I would have to say it’s me although - Chuba Akpom, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Kieran Gibbs are formidable opponents.

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