Alex Iwobi says he chose Nigeria over England because he felt more welcome in the side, and believed that’s where he was meant to be.
Iwobi scored two goals over the international break, grabbing a brace against Argentina, which is two more goals than England scored. He played for the Three Lions at youth level, but explained to Soccer Laduma via Mirror why he made the switch.
“I was growing up in England and England was the only national team I knew, so I was actually very pleased to play at national level. However, my family are all from Nigeria, I was born in Nigeria, my uncle (Jay-Jay Okocha) is a legend in Nigeria.
“That’s why I thought I would give it a chance. That’s why I went to the U23s and somehow felt more welcome, and I thought it’s where I belong, so I made the decision to switch.”
So far it’s a decision that has worked out very well for Iwobi and his country. Nigeria, like England, have qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, so he’s not going to miss out on that. Plus, Iwobi was the one that got them there, scoring the goal that qualified his country.
If he’d chosen England, I’m not sure the 21-year-old would even be in the current team. The selection process is difficult to understand when Jack Wilshere is left out for lack of gametime, while Danny Drinkwater, Jesse Lingard, Danny Rose and Dominic Solanke get in.
When you also consider what Iwobi is saying about feeling welcome and belonging, it seems pretty clear that Nigeria was the right choice. Now hopefully he can use the confidence his country gives him to push on with the Gunners as well.