Alex Iwobi's father speaks to Pulse Sports about the career of his son.
It is impossible to quantify the effect Chuba Iwobi has had in his son’s blossoming career.
Father to Alex Iwobi, Chuba has been the force behind the career of the Arsenal youngster. He was seen keeping a watchful eye on the 21-year-old in Super Eagles training ahead of the 1-0 win over Zambia.
During the Super Eagles open training session at the practice pitch of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Pulse Sports had an opportunity to interview Chuba Iwobi.
In this chat, he talks about his son’s career, how he started playing football and his future with the Super Eagles and Arsenal.
Chuba Iwobi was a footballer himself
“I did play in the National League for two teams. I played when I was at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, I was in Vasco Dagama for one year and then as a corper, I also played with the Famous Scorpions in Ibadan.
“I played with Emmanuel Okocha, Jay Jay’s elder brother and that’s how I came to know the Okocha’s. Emmanuel was my teammate and friend and I married his younger sister which is Jay Jay elder sister.”
How Iwobi started playing football
“As a person who loves football, I always wanted to have a son who I can take to play football without any expectation. I never forced him to play football, what he is achieved is beyond my imagination.
“I took Alex to play football at the park and he enjoyed it. So when we finish, he wouldn’t want to go home. I never planned it. He continued playing with his age mate just for fun.
“When he was four I took him to covert development centre where they had people of the same age, I noticed he was slightly better. He wasn’t exceptional, just better than the rest.
“When he was six, I put him in a club called Rippleway, a Sunday League team. It was during one of these games that somebody came to me and said 'I’m an Arsenal scout.'
“The coach had told me that Alex was exceptional and in that team also was Chuba Akpom. The scout approached I and Chuba’s father and told us to bring our sons to Arsenal developmental centre. I thought the scout was joking.
“So we took him to the development centre where he spent two years because they can’t sign you until you are nine.
“For that two years there were dropping players and bringing in new ones but Alex and Chuba made the cut and got into the Arsenal U-13.
“It was a tough journey; he was nearly released by Arsenal when he was 12 because they do a two-year report but they gave him an opportunity.
“He was almost dropped again two years later at the age of 15. He was a bit of a late developer, one of the smallest in the group. They said he wasn’t physical and quick enough. Physically he wasn’t up there but what stood out was his technical abilities.
“It was Arsene Wenger who recognised his talent and gave him his opportunity. I will forever be grateful to him."
Influence of Jay Jay Okocha
ALSO READ: Okocha speaks on teaching Iwobi
"Jay Jay speaks and encourages him a lot."
How he handles Iwobi
“I wasn’t that tough on him, my strategy was always about the positives. If he had a bad game, I was always encouraging him first. ‘Nice one, Alex, that was a good pass, but you should have done it that way and this way’."
Iwobi’s best position
“The point of every footballer is what we call versatility which means you can play anywhere. You play where your coach tells you to play.
“Ultimately, I see him as a No 10 and people have always seen him as a No. 10 more like an attacking midfielder.
“But the way Arsenal play, you have to be ready for different formations, there are now playing with three at the back, Alex can play as a wing-back. That’s not his position but if he is called up to play he can do it. He can play on the left, he can play on the right, he can play as a false nine and he can play behind the striker.
“His preferred position is in the number 10 role. As a player, you have to play where you are told to play. I see him playing in any position apart from in goal.”
Iwobi’s shooting and scoring
“Alex stays back after training to work on his shooting and scoring. These things come with confidence, development and age.
“He has to be very careful also because he plays with big stars like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette. You can’t just shoot when you are playing with these players. You shoot and it goes wide, then they look at you and ask ‘why didn’t you pass?’
“He has it in him and he has to have his confidence to do it.
“The manager has given him a target of 10 goals in the Premier League and give me eight assists. It’s a recognition of how talented Wenger thinks he is.
“I don’t care about him scoring, I just want his team to do well either Arsenal or Super Eagles."
Who is in charge of Iwobiu’s finances?
“I don’t keep Alex’s money. I’m just here to ensure he has enough when he retires.
“We have seen players go broke after they retire, it would be a failure on my own part not to advise him properly. “Alex has his team, everything is structured, I just overlook. I only advise him, he has accountants, coaches, media people."