Alex Iwobi has named an unlikely striker as his inspiration and shed some light on his teammate’s decision to move to Hull City on loan.
While most young players hail footballers like Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo or Zinedine Zidane for inspiring them to first walk onto a football pitch, 19-year-old Iwobi actually named teammate, Chuba Akpom, as his.
The winger revealed that he and the striker have been friends since they were incredibly young and have been as thick as thieves ever since.
“I don’t remember when we first met because we go way back, since the age of four,” Iwobi said. “I remember playing for a Sunday team together and it was basically us two and then the other team-mates would help, but we were the main players.”
He continued, “We grew up together so we’ve been going through the same things, but also he’s been progressing more so I use him as an inspiration. He lets me know what he’s going through so that I can prepare for it. Watching him grow and become what he is right now is so good to see.”
Akpom is currently having a grand time on loan at Hull City, having already scored two goals in as many appearances, while Iwobi scored his first goal for the Arsenal senior team during our pre-season match against Lyon. Therefore, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of these two, not by a long shot.
“I was happy for him [to join Hull City on loan],” Iwobi said. “I was speaking with his family and I could see that he was really happy to go on loan because he just wants to get some minutes and prove a point. Hopefully Hull will be the team for him.”
It’s certainly heart-warming to hear of players being inspired by each other and supporting the people around them, rather than idolising superstars. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the latter, but I imagine having the people you admire playing next to you everyday must keep your feet on the ground.
The youngster praised Arsenal’s youth system for the chance to grow up and play football with one of his best friends, saying, “It’s clear for them to see that it’s possible. It shows that if you keep on working hard from a young age it’s possible to make it into the first team.
“[Arsenal’s academy is so successful because of] the training, the coaching, the staff, the facilities. I never say everything’s perfect but Arsenal’s training ground really is perfect.”