Former Arsenal Academy Coach: ‘Iwobi ‘deserves credit’ for fighting back to build career

Alex Iwobi has missed only three league matches for Everton in his second season at Goodison Park.

Having arrived on Merseyside from Arsenal in 2019, the winger is yet to impress for the Toffees, managing only two goals and five assists in all competitions since the start of last campaign.

The 24-year-old came up through Gunners’ youth system and spent four years with their first team before joining Everton.

Things weren’t easy for the Toffees player initially in the north London club’s academy as there were concerns over the Nigeria international staying in shape.

Arsène Wenger promoted the wideman to Arsenal’s first team in 2015, more than 18 months after the English club appointed Andries Jonker as their academy manager. The latter is now the technical director of second division Dutch side, SC Telstar.

Jonker details his first impression of Iwobi during an interview with Norwegian television channel TV2.

“When I first arrived at the club, he wasn’t 100 percent fit yet. He had elastic around his knee and was a little overweight. He wasn’t in as good shape as the others,” he said.

The Dutchman also revealed how Iwobi took advantage of circumstances around him to prove himself to Wenger and break into Arsenal’s first team.

“I asked around a little bit to get more information about what type of player he was. Then I was told that he was playing because the team had several players out with injuries, that he wasn’t really good enough and should have been sold,” Jonker explained.

“But then Arsène Wenger needed a few extra players for a training session, and that’s where Iwobi did well and was told that he should try his hand again.

“In the meantime, he got in better shape, was able to play without elastic around his knee and Arsène constantly called him up to the first-team.”

“At one point there were a lot of injuries at Arsenal and he took care of the opportunities he was given. He never looked back, he deserves credit for that.”



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