After a fast rise to the Arsenal first team, some England fans may be a little aggrieved that Alex Iwobi has opted to play for Nigeria.
The attacking midfielder has two goals and two assists in three Premier League starts over the past month or so but, no matter how well he does in the coming weeks, he won’t be off to the European Championships in the summer.
Iwobi played a friendly for Nigeria at the beginning of the season but made it impossible to switch allegiances to England by playing a competitive game against Egypt last month.
“It was a difficult decision picking Nigeria over England,” the midfielder has admitted. Iwobi played for England at a number of youth levels up to the u18s but will now never feature for the senior team, despite the attempts of Roy Hodgson and his team.
“England did contact me recently before I played my first competitive match for Nigeria, asking if I wanted to play for England.
“I’m very proud to represent Nigeria but I would like to say thank you to England for the chance they gave me, it was a difficult decision.”
Iwobi’s Nigeria debut came in a friendly against DR Congo back in October, and he’s now won four caps for his country, even though he’s yet to play a competitive fixture for the Super Eagles.
“The love Nigeria showed me, when I played for them in a friendly, the fans were just crazy. The fans almost eat you up because they love you so much. I’m enjoying playing for them.”
Some fans are even eager to show Iwobi their love for the Gunners.
“When you are getting out of the airport there are fans already there screaming ‘Arsenal, Arsenal. Gunners for life!’ and it’s just mad.
“Some of them have Arsenal shirts and then others will ask me for Arsenal shirts. It’s a bit mad and the fans are crazy.”
Arsenal are huge in Nigeria after the success of Nwankwo Kanu. If Iwobi can enjoy half the glory that Kanu had in north London, he’ll also become a cult figure before too long.