Alex Iwobi wants to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha by winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria this summer.
Iwobi played a key role in Nigeria’s qualification for the 2019 edition of the tournament, starting five out of their six group games and only missing the sixth through illness. Now he’s preparing for the actual tournament this summer, and hoping he can follow in his uncle’s footsteps by winning it at the first attempt.
“I’ve seen some of his highlights from 1994 and it would be cool to achieve that as well,” Iwobi told BBC Sport (via Complete Sports). “I’m excited, I have always dreamt of participating and representing my country at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it won’t be easy for us in Egypt. Both dreams are coming true, hopefully, I can get to play in Egypt.”
Okocha won the competition in 1994, finished as runner up in 2000, and in third place in 2002, 2004 and 2006, so Iwobi has a lot of catching up to do. The constant comparisons to one of Nigeria’s legends must add quite a bit of pressure to the Arsenal man’s shoulders, but he says he never grows tired of them.
“I can never get tired of people comparing us. I see my uncle as an idol, someone I have always looked up to as a footballer,” he said. “When people compare me to him… it’s like ‘wow’ maybe they see me on his level but I don’t believe I am there yet.
“It is what it is, he’s a skilful player, I’m quite skilful myself so they are always going to compare me to him especially that he’s my uncle. I still have a long way to go, maybe one day I can be on his level or greater.”
Iwobi’s had a pretty positive season with Arsenal overall. He’s made more appearances (46) than anybody else this campaign, scoring five goals and assisting seven, though his most important work has come in the build-up, rather than final passes and shots. Sead Kolasinac has certainly benefitted from having the 22-year-old to link up with.
Let’s hope he has a few more good performances before the end of the season and leaves for this summer’s AFCON tournament on a high note.