ALEX IWOBI: I want to be Premiership legend

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QUICK TAKE

Favourite Female Artist: Mikki Minaj
Favourite Male Artist: Drake
Favourite Nickname: Big 17
Favourite Comic Hero: Captain America
Favourite Holiday Spot: Dubai
Favourite Player(S): Okocha, Ronaldinho,
Favourite Sport: Basketball
Favourite Actor: Will Smith
Favourite Nigerian Food: Pounded Yam

With a goal in two appearances for new club, Everton, Nigeria player Alex Iwobi believes he’s in for a glorious Premiership season. Describing his move to the North London club as ‘not shocking,’ as reported by Premiership followers, he noted that it was a culmination of series of talks with Everton manager, Marco Silva. “He called me repeatedly and said he would like me to fill a spot in his team. He has accomplished so much and I respect him.”

The 23-year-old had been one of Silva’s primary summer targets, since last season following his impressive stats in the Premiership. Iwobi started 22 Premier League games and scored three goals with seven assists.

His aim, Iwobi added, is to become a Premiership legend. “When I spoke to the manager during the holiday he was telling me that there is a spot for you. I will take care of you. Basically, they were ready to do all the things that needed and gave me the confidence that all is well. It was too much for me to turn down. I’m ready for a new challenge, new chapter in my life.”

Iwobi was Everton’s seventh and final close-season recruit. He joins fellow young bucks Moise Kean and Jean Philippe Gbamin in completing moves to Goodison Park.

Iwobi, in this online interview with Taiwo Alimi, speaks further on the Everton challenge, the transfer deal, Arsenal, Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Mikel Obi and many other things.

The Everton deal

Of course, I was able to look at the playing chances and the fact that some great talents are here (Everton) and more coming in. Not just I but some quality players and I’m excited about the challenge. So far, I’ve been made to feel at home and scoring is quite elating for me. I just know I would do well here. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen how much of a family that I have here. I was welcome well and I can see why it is important to be here. I hope it will be a great time for me.

Manager Marco Silva

Before we started talking, I was impressed with the work he has done with the club. He made a name for himself as a coach and he has made many players to reach the height of their game. I hope he would do the same thing for me and that would make me very happy. He went all to get me and that is because he believes in me and has high expectation on me. All I want to do is do even better than he expects.

Expectation

I have great expectation of myself. At the back of my mind all I’ve wanted to do is to be a great player and Arsenal gave me the opportunity to aspire to that and I hope to even do better here. I’m looking forward to it. This is the opportunity to make a name for myself in the Premiership and create some kind of history. I hope that one day I would also be a Premiership legend like my Uncle (Jay Jay Okocha) and many others that I look up to. That is my dream.

I came through the rank of Arsenal Academy. I’m only 23 and have had more than a 100 Premiership games and hope that I can take bigger responsibility in Everton. I’m determined and hungry. That is a big part that is needed to succeed. I want to improve my game and give everything. I want basically to be more efficient and get more goals. I have the fighting spirit to go all out and this is what gets me to where I am today. Hard work and determination are the ingredients of success.

Everton challenge

I always had that youngster tag at Arsenal, so hopefully with this move I am able to make a name for myself. The challenge is here because like Arsenal there are world class players here but even in Arsenal I was not doing badly. I’m sure I can get into Everton squad. It is not going to be easy but I know we shall get there.

The X-factor

Aside from determination and hunger for success I try to work hard. You have to work hard to retain your place when you are in the midst of quality players. Because when you slip up another is there to take your place. So you always have to be on top of your game.

Arsenal

Arsenal made me what I am. I learnt a lot of tricks there from the academy. I’m happy with my stats there, especially last season. I have progressed as the stats have shown. I have gotten involved in a few more goals; I had many good moments there. So many great moments: from scoring my first goal at the Emirates to scoring my last goal in Baku. I’ve been through fantastic coaches who have played a big part in my 17 fantastic years. It was an honour to play for the club I supported as a boy. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Arsenal means the world to me. I grew up dreaming of playing for Arsenal, following in the footsteps of some of my heroes. I’m proud to say that at 23 I’ve achieved one of my dreams; from playing for Arsenal kids to 149 senior appearances. Special thanks to the fans, my team mates, the support staff, my coaches Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery who put faith in me and gave me the opportunity to grow as a player and a man.

AFCON 2019

It was my first. We did well in the qualifiers, it wasn’t an easy group and we did very well. We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the pack. Everybody wanted to beat Nigeria. And we knew it’s been a while since we played at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Against Cameroon and South Africa I’d say we lifted our game and dug deep. It gave us confidence to go till the end.

We knew the game against Algeria was not going to be easy because they were the tournament favourite but we did not disappoint. We had a great tournament.

I had a good tournament and same goes for my teammates too. AFCON bronze makes me feel good. And that is to reinforce the fact that we are getting there. We are not there yet. We are also very young, so the future is still bright. The team is still young, we have lots of young players. There is a lot of hope, a bright future ahead of us.

I’ve been very blessed to be given the opportunity to play for the Super Eagles. I always wanted to represent and play for Nigeria. I’m always hungry and eager to show that I want to represent my country and do them proud. The players are marvellous and respectful too.

Mikel Obi

Obi was like a big brother and he inspired all of us. He’s got experience and that helped us a lot too. He was always ready to take responsibility and helped the coach a lot speaking up about ideas we need to look into. He inspires me. He’s always talking to me and tries to help me with my game because he’s a bit different playing on the African continent and to play in Europe; so he’s always there to help me and guide me when I’m playing.

My goal in AFCON was special and my family, mum and dad were proud of me. They are proud of the progress I’ve made playing for Nigeria and I will not let them down.

Unwinding

I fiddle with my phone a lot. I use it for lots of things and you will always see me on it when I’m not playing football or training. It is in fact the first thing I turn to when I wake up. I listen to music a lot and at the moment I’m in love with Canadian rapper Drake.

(The Nation)