Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger who managed former Super Eagles captain and two-time African Footballer of the Year, Nwankwo Kanu, wants young midfielder Alex Iwobi to choose England over Nigeria, the player’s father has disclosed.
Chuka Iwobi who is a nephew to former Eagles captain and mercurial midfield wizard, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and his father, Chuka, arrived the Dream Team, U23 national camp few days ago and revealed to the media of how Wenger tried persuading his son to play for England at the expense of Nigeria.
However Chuka Iwobi, who hails from Onitsha, Anambra State and his son’s uncle, Jay Jay Okocha, a relative to his wife, persuaded Alex, a youth international at the U15 and U18 levels for England to play for the U23 Nigerian national team.
“Wenger had preferred Alex play for the England national team but I and Austin Okocha who is a relation of Alex’s mother, my wife, advised him to play for Nigeria and he agreed.
“Alex has huge respect for Jay Jay (Okocha) since he has watched his video clips and read about his exploits while playing in England as well as in the Super Eagles, so he agreed to play for Nigeria,” Alex father, Chuka Iwobi said in Abuja shortly after the Dream Team VI evening training.
The father however tipped his son to make the U23 team squad despite the boy slow start in Wednesday’s training which he attributed to change of environment and newness in the Nigerian team.
“I have seen Alex squared up against bigger and more experienced players in the UK (United Kingdom) and has excelled so I am confident that he will proof his worth in the Nigerian U23 national team.
“He is not expected to click in his first attempt but I know his coaches here might have seen the talent and his skills which is most important.
“Players often faced slow start when they play newly in a team. You could see in today’s training that he wasn’t getting the needed passes and had to track back most times to get the ball. I know with more training sessions with the rest of the players as from Thursday (today) through Saturday he would improve with the national team,” Iwobi senior defended.
Chuka Iwobi confirmed that his son would leave Abuja for North London on Sunday failure which could attract a fine.
“Alex is expected to be here till Saturday and must return to England this Sunday. Failure to report to the training ground at the Emirates Stadium on Monday would attract a fine. But I hope he would have proved himself with the Nigerian U23 national team before then,” Iwobi senior added.
Meanwhile Arsenal have offered highly-
rated Nigerian-born forward Chuba Akpom a new three-year contract to stay at the club.
The 19-year-old who himself, alongside Semi Ajayi, has declared his intention to represent Nigeria, his father’s nation rather than England where he was born, has built his reputation with fine performances of the club’s Under-21 side, but his current deal is set to expire in the summer.
Akpom’s contract situation means that he is now allowed to hold talks with foreign clubs, and there is interest from Feyenoord, FC Twente and Borussia Dortmund, according to the Evening Standard.
Akpom has made just three appearances for the senior side this season.