Arsene Wenger reckons England didn’t push hard enough to secure Alex Iwobi when they had the chance.
Iwobi represented England up until u18 level. However, in 2015 the winger decided to switch to Nigeria, the place of his and his parents’ birth, and Wenger doesn’t think the FA did enough to try and convince him otherwise.
“He had the potential to play for England and for Nigeria,” Wenger said. “Today he looks very happy with Nigeria. When I speak to him, he’s had very positive experiences.
“He brings his quality to Nigeria – he’s absolutely a creative player going forward. He’s very strong in small spaces and he’s starting to score goals as well.
“For a while it was open between England and Nigeria, and England didn’t really push for Alex during that period. Nigeria were more willing to have him. I’ve seen many times that sons of parents from Nigeria want to go back to their parents’ country.”
Admittedly, Iwobi has been given far more opportunities for the Super Eagles than he would have got with England’s senior squad. In fact, the 21-year-old has quickly turned into a key man in Nigeria’s starting line-up.
Iwobi has been capped 13 times for his country and scored twice. The second goal was against Zambia during a 2018 World Cup qualifier and sent his side through to the tournament in Russia. His goal meant that Nigeria were the first African side to make it through and the winger admitted earlier this week that he found it hard to hold back the tears when celebrating.
Iwobi has only made four Premier League starts for Arsenal this season, so it’s hard to imagine that the youngster would get the chance to play for England, despite what Wenger says. However, he does look happy to be representing his country and it can only be doing him good.
The winger played 81 minutes for Nigeria against Algeria on Friday night in their final World Cup Qualifier.
Not that it mattered since Iwobi’s goal against Zambia had already sent them through.