It’s no secret that Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi had a huge influence from his uncle Jay-Kay Okocha, who played for Bolton Wanderers and Hull City.
ESPN Brasil‘s reporter João Castello Branco managed an interview with the youngster, mostly talking about the relationship with Okocha and the difference between seeing his uncle play and now having him as a fan.
Asked about their meetings in the past, Iwobi revealed how important Okocha has been to him throughout his career, and life generally: “He was a big figure in Africa, as well in Nigeria. He’s always been my idol. He doesn’t only help me on the pitch, he also helps me off the pitch, which is a key thing for me.”
Questioned if Okocha likes that fact that he’s become a footballer, Iwobi said: “Yeah. He was in my house the other day. When he asked me for my shirt, I was confused. I thought it was a joke. Then my dad got one of my old jerseys and gave it to him and he said ‘aw, I’m going to treasure this’. And I was like ‘wow, it used be the other way around’. It was weird, I enjoyed the moment, it was crazy.”
Iwobi currently has seven caps for Nigeria, for whom his uncle is in sixth place in the ranking for most appearances. But the Arsenal player says his family is not the only thing that helped him to become popular in his home country.
The fact the he plays for the Gunners is what received the fans’ attention, mostly because of Nwankwo Kanu’s history for the national team.
“When I got to come on against Egypt, I saw love they have for the game. They just shouted ‘Arsenal’. Even though they knew my name, they just shouted Arsenal when I was coming on to the pitch, it was actually funny. It’s amazing the support they have for the club. They’re all very passionate for football and their favourite league is definitely the Premier League.”
Arsenal are clearly very big in Nigeria and if Iwobi continues as he’s started the season, then that fan base is only likely to increase even further.