How Jay-Jay Okocha influenced my Nigeria choice – Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi was faced with a dilemma when deciding which nation to play for.

According to, Iwobi could have chosen either the country of his birth, Nigeria or the country where he grew up and spent most of his years, which is England.

But the Arsenal midfielder chose Nigeria and that was partly due to his uncle, the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha.

Iwobi was won over by the reception he saw Okocha receive on his return to his hometown.

“I went over there to see what it’s like and the way they described my uncle,” Iwobi tells Arsenal TV. “Wow, he's a legend.”

“Even when we were just walking around with him and in the car, the acknowledgment he gets from everyone… I thought, ‘Wow, maybe one day I would like to feel like that as well'.

“He influenced me without even talking to me about it.”

Later today, Iwobi and Nigeria will bid to reach the round of 16 of the FIFA 2018 World Cup against Argentina in their final group game.

“I always say that football is not just a sport in Nigeria,” says Okocha. “Football is life in Africa.

“If we can come out of the group that's an achievement, and anything can happen after that.”

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 years ago

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