Latest Posts

The Making of Alex Iwobi - A Perfect Example!

Alex Iwobi's Story: A Perfect Example Of How To Groom A Worldclass Star
Everything you need to know about Alex Iwobi (Story in text, photography and video). Enjoy this piece which was first published by Lifebloggers, but modified by CheerOnNigeria, with more exclusive information and illustrations.

Alex Iwobi's story isn't the usual "grass to grace" story of most African footballers. Everything was and is still going for him. He came from a rich family and has the full support of parents, being born into a lineage of footballl stars: Emmanuel and Austin Okocha... Alex had both the connections and mentor to help him succeed in his chosen football career.

Alex Iwobi Childhood Story
Alexander Chuka Iwobi was born on the 3rd day of May 1996 in Lagos, Nigeria by Mr and Mrs Chuba Iwobi.

At age 2, his family moved to Turkey to join his mother’s relation who is former Nigerian player Austin Jay Jay Okocha. At that time, Okocha was playing at Fenabache. In 2002, when he was 4, Iwobi was taken to London by his family after his uncle relocated there to play with Bolton Wanderers. He was raised fully in an east London estate close to Bolton Wanderers.

At England, he started off playing football with his friends in near by pitches close to his estate.

Career Start - Signing for Arsenal
Iwobi signed for Arsenal while still at primary school at the tender age of eight. His signature at the club was influenced by Austin Jay Jay Okocha.

Alex Iwobi- Multi task Between Schooling and Playing Football
Alex developed a life where he multi tasked between playing football and studying. His youth career time at Arsernal came at a time when the club was at the peak of English football.

Iwobi's Experience - When the Going got Tough
Alex Iwobi was a happy child at Arsenal until the unfortunate happened
Things didn’t go well at his early start as he was close to being released by the club when he was in his early teens 13 or so.  His mum wasn’t proud about the performance of her son as they sent her a threatening letter of release. This shocked the family.

Threat to His Career - How everybody Rallied Around Him
Alex Iwobi’s mum reading a letter from Arsenal threatening to release her son

According to Iwobi, “Because I wasn’t as big, fast or strong as everyone else, there were question marks on me and my ability that I wasn’t imposing myself on the game as I should. It was upsetting because I was also struggling at school, I was always thinking..‘What can I do to improve?’ I would have extra sessions with my dad or friends. My mum even made me do kick-ups in the living room. My sister even tried to play football.

Even my mum invited her brother Okocha and his friend Kanu would come by to have private training sessions with me. Everyone indeed, was trying to help me.”

Naturally, they were all proud of how Alex turned things around. Later on as youth-team player, he got braver on the pitch and learn not to shy away from physical challenges. This was what Kanu and Okocha taught him.

Arsenal coaches were really impressed with him. Iwobi used that platform to express himself and led his youth team to winning trophies.

Alex Iwobi- Bouncing back to success
Again, he tried day in day out to build in more end products. “That’s what the big players get recognised for, scoring goals or creating goals,” Iwobi says.

It was the goal he scored against Basel that gave him a confidence boost in the Arsenal team at last. The rest, as they say, is now history.

Alex Iwobi - Family Life
Alex Iwobi comes from a rich family background thanks to their hard work and of course, family ties with Austin Jay Jay Okocha, the ex Nigerian international.

FATHER: Alex Iwobi’s father, Chuba Iwobi was a footballer, who abandoned his low paying amature football career to study law in order to care for his family and assure a long term future for them. His son, Alex finally up where he left off.

Today, Iwobi is putting the family name on TV screens across the world with his impressive performances for Arsenal.

Iwobi’s father, Barrister Chuba is instrumental for his son’s acquaintance with the Nigerian environment and culture.

MOTHER: His mother is also Nigerian by origin. She is the elder sister of Austin Jay Jay Okocha. Her love for Alex since his childhood is like nothing else in the world. Indeed, his mother’s heart has been with him right from day one. She was instrumental to Alex success in football, she is a very determined back up for him.

SISTER: Alex Iwobi is very close to his sister, Marie. Below is a picture of him, his dad and the ever beautiful sister Marie.

Alex Iwobi Sister,
Marie Iwobi, her brother, Alex and Father
He once went to visit her at university, pulling a hood up so as not to draw any special attention.

“I just want to enjoy the time with my sister,” he says. “We are close, we are always together, having a laugh. I’m always trying to take care of her.”

 Alex Iwobi is Jay Jay Okocha’s nephew and is inspired a lot by the retired Nigerian football maestro who also helped him gained his spot in the Nigerian National team.

He has got his uncle Jay-Jay [Okocha] to look up to as a mentor. However, he still wants to have his won destiny just like other players. In is words ‘I love being Jay-Jay’s nephew but I want to establish my own identity, I want people to know me as Alex Iwobi and not Alex Iwobi, Jay-Jay’s nephew’, which obviously shows a lot of ambition.

According to a close friend of Alex “I mean, Jay-Jay has been his mentor, he encourages him, he tells him where to go and how to conduct himself. In the scheme of things, he still wants to have his own identity just like any other player, so Alex Iwobi is Alex Iwobi. And I’m glad he’s beginning to assert himself and become Alex Iwobi. With hard work and dedication, he can only get better and that is the prayer of every parent or mentor.”

Alex don't speaks his local language Igbo; but speaks English and Pidgin.
Iwobi does not speak Nigerian Igbo language but understands the language. He also understands the Nigerian Yoruba language He however speaks good Pidgin English and uses it to communicate with his Nigerian friend.

According to his parents, ‘We think it’s a failing on our part because we could have done a bit more to make him understand Igbo.”

Many Nigerians are happy that Alex picked up the universal language which is ‘Pidgin English’ and he has made an effort talking to his team-mates in it. In the Nigerian national team, you have Igbo people and Yoruba people but the universal language is Pidgin. His first encounter with Pidgin was when he was invited to join the Nigerian Under-23 national team.

According to his father,  “It’s getting better now and it’s coming to a stage where he understands every word of Pidgin but then he’s struggling to put his thoughts into pidgin words. So he has a fair understanding of Pidgin and by the time he comes progressively into camp, I’m sure he’s going to get better,”

Alex Iwobi's Favorite Food
He might have grown up in the United Kingdom as a British Citizen but Iwobi loves Nigerian foods, with his best being Eba and Okra soup and stew fish. His father’s words…

Alex Iwobi’s Favorite Food- Okra, Eba and Stew Fish

“He’ll kill me for this, but Alex’s favourite food is eba (a staple made with cassava flour) and okra soup made by his mum. These days, he eats all kinds of Nigerian food.”

Alex Relationship with National Teammates
It is pertinent to note that Kelechi Ihenacho is Alex Iwobi’s best friend. He also has a strong relationship with Ahmed Musa and Mikel Obi.

Alex is an easy going guy, so he gets along with almost of his teammates at the national teammate. Alex is also very professional and doesn't interfer much with the politics of the game. So he also have quiet a cordial relationship with the coaches and management of NFF.

Alex and Nigerian fans
Having spent most of his life in England, he has been astounded by the reaction of Nigerians when he first traveled to the country to represent the Super Eagles.

“Everyone appreciates you. You’re almost like a king!” he says. “When I arrived at the airport I thought, I’ll just have my earphones in, but everyone was like ‘Iwobi! Iwobi!’ Oh gosh. Hi guys! I didn’t know what to expect. It was just mad. Then I started moving with Kelechi Iheanacho who is a very thick Naija boy. Where ever we go, we get escorted. Because I’m not used to the Nigerian culture as much as they are, he do help me with it. I can’t really speak the language that well. They help me with the fans. The fans are very different there. They don’t ask me for autographs, they only ask for  boots, jerseys and of course monies.

“At my debut we played in a stadium that holds 30,000 and there was 60,000 – I don’t understand how. People were standing on the floodlights, on the scoreboard. I was thinking, ‘What? This isn’t even safe!’ But people there will do anything to watch the match. Sometimes in a Premier League game the fans are a bit quiet but in Nigeria you just hear trumpets, everything. The atmosphere is so different compared to England.”

Without doubt, the international scene has been yet another eye-opener in this young career. Iwobi cannot wait to experience more.

Alex Iwobi Break out of Okocha's Shadow
Alex Iwobi has always been looking to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and former Nigeria captain Austin Jay-Jay Okocha.
“He’s a legend in African football and I know I’ll have to work hard so people can speak positively about me as well,” Alex said.

“Having him as an uncle helps for inspiration but I didn’t achieve my status by being someone’s nephew – I earn my path. My target is to get as many call-ups as I can, get as many games as I can and win many trophies with Nigeria.”

Without doubt, Okocha still remains one of the persons who is particularly influential on Iwobi’s career.

According to Iwobi, “We speak every couple of weeks. He does advise me, not just on the pitch but off it too. Football is a short career so he always tell me to maintain the lifestyle. He advises me to get businesses and having properties in Nigeria. He always trying to keep me level-headed and to help me plan for the future after football.”

Following in Okocha’s footsteps, Alex has chosen to play for Nigeria instead of England. It is worthy to assert that Alex has represented England at under-16, 17 and 18 level. He decided to quit the team and serve his father’s land.

Alex has featured for Nigeria at the Fifa World Cup, Russia 2018. And as it is, he is no longer an upcoming talent, Alex is perhaps, Nigeria most popular star today.

No comments