The father of Arsenal youngster Alex iwobi has said he not only hopes his son establishes himself with Nigeria, but goes on to the captain the country’s team, just as his uncle the legendary Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha did.
The younger Iwobi played 11 times for several age-group England teams before he changed his international allegiance to his father’s country of birth last year.
He has already won two caps for the Super Eagles, but both were in friendly matches.
And after crowning his first Premier League start for Arsenal with a goal in a 2-0 win at Everton at the weekend, he was favourably in line for his first official game for the three-time African champions, but this may now have to wait after he suffered food poisoning at the team’s dinner on Monday.
“Alex is fully committed to Nigeria and I hope he goes on not only to establish himself in the team, but also goes on to captain the country,” said Chuka Iwobi, a London-based lawyer.
“He has shown character, keeps working hard and above all, he is humble and listens and learns from both his manager Arsene Wenger and the senior players at Arsenal.
“He is only starting out in his career and he knows he has a lot he needs to do to improve on his game.”
Iwobi senior is equally delighted that ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha has been an adviser for Alex.
“You cannot have a better adviser than ‘Jay Jay’ in your corner,” said the man, who is married to the sister of the former PSG, Hull City and Bolton Wanderers.
Last Saturday was a red letter day in the house of the Iwobis – Alex scored in his first Premier League start for ’The Gunners’.
“It was magical,” described the proud father.
“We all watched the game at home, my wife and his 15-year-old sister and when he scored, we all shouted and danced in joy even though I don’t consider myself a great dancer.
“Probably, my only regret was that I was not at the game. Wenger only announces his team two hours to a game, so you are never sure who will start or not.
“I am at all Arsenal home games because we live in London. But if I knew he would start, I would have been in the stadium in Liverpool to cheer him.”
Iwobi senior himself was a decent player in his days but he never got to play for Nigeria.
He was an attacking midfielder who featured for the University of Nigeria (UNN) football team as well as the now defunct Vasco da gama of Enugu. He was nicknamed “Mehalla” after an Egyptian club who dumped the great Enugu Rangers out of a continental competition in the 80s.
Who is a better player, father or son?
“I would say that already at his age he is a better player and he has got everything to be much, much better,” the older Iwobi is not ashamed to concede.