Marcus Rashford hit the headlines with successive braces against FC Midtjylland and Arsenal FC. He also hit the winner against Manchester City. Manchester United fans heralded the arrival of a star. He has been likened to many great players including the legendary highest goalscorer at Arsenal FC, King Thierry Henry.

The Red Devils are never new to such youthful stars. They had Federico Macheda in the not-to-far past. Now there are Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard both of whom broke into the first team since last season. Everton FC also had John Stone and a couple of others.

In a dink, here comes Alex Iwobi! Since Wilshere caught the gunners’ attention some seasons back, hardly has any homegrown Arsenal player made quick impact like this tall and strong winger/striker. Now fans are singing praises of him. A fan tweeted:
“Thank God he belongs to us”

Arsenal fans are excited that they are having such a player on their side. When he scored the his first senior goal and the second after Danny Welbeck had hit the first against Everton on Saturday, 19th March, 2016, in the Premier League, he justified the excitement. That day he won the Most Valuable Player of the match trophy, too.

Nigerian football fans of the Super Eagles are also excited. They are, as well, chanting and singing the chorus: “Thank God, he belongs to us”. Alex Iwobi is a Nigerian. He was born in Lagos and he is a nephew to another Nigerian footballer, former Bolton FC midfielder and a Super Eagles legend: the mercurial Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha. Remember “He is so good, they named him twice!”.

Okocha showed how proud he was with the twenty year old when he also tweeted the following after Arsenal’s match against Barcelona FC of Spain:

So happy watching Alex Iwobi (nephew) on the big stage. I’m very much impressed with his performance.
Jay-Jay Okocha (@IAmOkocha) March 16, 2016

Why then the general gratitude amongst the fans? As a Nigerian, except of late with the likes of Victor Moses, Leon Balogun and co., the country has lost countless talented players to other countries. In the past we had John Fashanu, Gabriel Agbonlahor. Recently, there were Dele Alli and Jordan Ibe.

Alex iwobi chose to play for Nigeria, despite having spent his youth career with England. Already, he has been capped twice for the Super Eagles, making his senior debut for Nigeria on 8th October 2015, replacing Ahmed Musa in the 57th minute of a 2-0 friendly defeat to DR Congo in Vise, Belgium.

For the Super Eagles and the ever insatiable Nigerian football fans, there are more to be grateful for. Apart from John Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses, and Osaze Odemwengie, which are in top flight football in England, enough youthful players are coming up the ranks.

Kelechi Iheanacho is rubbing shoulders with Sergio Aguero and other stars at Manchester City. Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze just signed for the youth team of Arsenal FC. Not to forget Asisat Oshoala that recently moved from Liverpool LFC to join the ladies of Arsenal LFC.

The “Le Professeur”, Frenchman Arsene Wenger, once said in an interview that Nigeria was not producing the talents he saw in Kanu Nwankwo again. With two males plus one female players joining Arsenal, Wenger would certainly be accepting that things are changing. Not even with Alex Iwobi!
Nigerian football fans can now modify their chorus and sing: “Thanks God, they belong to us!!!”.

Olaniyi G. Akanji

2016

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