Football

Alex Iwobi.

Alex Iwobi almost left Arsenal when he was 14

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Alex Iwobi has been nothing short of a revelation at Arsenal.

It's been a steady rise for the 20-year-old but following a superb start to the 2016/17 season, he looks primed to play an important role for the Gunners.

Three assists in four Premier League appearances thus far demonstrates how seamlessly he's adapted to playing alongside the like of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, with his part in Theo Walcott's goal against Chelsea on Saturday particularly flaunting his ability.

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After playing a neat one-two with Ozil on the edge of the box, Iwobi found Hector Bellerin with a superb pass to assist the assist of Walcott's tap-in.

Even Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has been waxing lyrical about the youngster.

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Speaking after Arsenal's win over Chelsea, he said: "He (Iwobi) played like an experienced veteran player.

"He got in between the lines between Chelsea's midfield and defence and you don’t really see that from young players like him.

"He doesn’t stand still and admire passes, he plays with an intent to hurt the opposition."

It could have all been so different for Iwobi, though.

FBL-ENG-PR-HULL-ARSENAL

In an interview with the Evening Standard, he revealed how he came close to being released by Arsenal as a 14 and 16-year-old.

"I was almost released at 14, again at 16 and just about got a professional contract after that," he said.

"Especially at 14, I thought I was very close to not making it. It was stressful as I was going through school, trying to balance that and make sure I was still signed for Arsenal. It was really difficult for me.

"We usually found out in December who might be kept on but I kept on getting the question ‘is he good enough?’ So they extended it to see if I could do something and it went to March and then April.

Paris Saint-Germain v Arsenal FC - UEFA Champions League

"Luckily I did enough. At 16 I got the option to leave but I always felt at home at Arsenal and that was where I wanted to be.

"At 16, there were a lot of good players, a few internationals in the team at a young age so it was difficult for me to stand out in the games.

"They always want the best and I wasn’t really up there at that age. The fact that I kept getting chances makes me feel lucky."

Iwobi won't be the only one counting his lucky stars. Indeed, Arsene Wenger will be delighted that the Nigerian stayed given the vast potential he possesses.

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Topics:
Thierry Henry
Alex Iwobi
Alexis Sanchez
Football
Premier League
Mesut Özil
UEFA Champions League
Theo Walcott
Arsenal

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