Nigeria International Alexander Iwobi, better known as Alex Iwobi writes for arsenal.comabout his lifetime journey at the North London club, since he was first admitted into its academy at the age of 6, just two years after the parents moved to London from Nigeria. At the age of eight, he signed as a Gunner.
Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.
I’ve heard that saying so many times, the coaches and players always remind us – especially the young players. First of all they’re trying to teach us to be professional on the pitch, because obviously we represent Arsenal and we need to be a team and a unit.
We need to be professional, whether that means being punctual or your attitude on and off the pitch. Growing up, I’ve always had respect for the club. I always wanted to do my best for the club, so I try to be professional.
Arsenal’s standards are very high so I’ve always tried to reach that. Arsenal have always been one of the best clubs in the world, so to even be a part of the club from a young age I’ve always had to give my best, show why I’m here and prove myself. Arsenal has always been like that.
My family moved from Lagos to London in 2000, when I was just four years old. Because I’m from a football family, I started playing from young and was spotted by Arsenal when I was at Rippleway with Chuba Akpom. Back then it was simple: I’d look for Chuba and he’d score. We were only six at the time so after we’d been scouted, we spent two years at the club’s developmental centre before signing and moving to Hale End when we were nine.
I have a lot of memories of that place. It’s changed quite a lot since when I was there, but I still have memories of going on to the astroturf and having Steve Leonard as my coach. He always used to remind us to give 100 per cent and that’s the main thing that I’ve held with me ever since.
The day that I found out that I was getting my scholarship was a bit tense, because there were I don’t know how many boys left, but only three of us got the scholarship and I never thought I would be one of them. I was almost released at 14 and again at 16, so I wasn’t feeling very confident about it.