Arsenal's Alex Iwobi encouraged by Nigeria opportunity

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Alex Iwobi
Nigeria and Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi

Arsenal youngster Alex Iwobi says he is delighted to have made his debut for the country of his birth Nigeria and hopes to win many more caps.

Iwobi, who has represented England at under-16, 17 and 18 level, impressed for the Super Eagles after coming off the bench in a 2-0 defeat to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a friendly in Vise, Belgium.

"It was an honour to represent my country, I was just buzzing to get on for the last half hour and I was excited," Iwobi told BBC Sport.

"I got a few touches and I was excited, even though we lost it felt like I won but I enjoyed the moment."

The 19-year-old is 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," he said.

"Having him as an uncle helps for inspiration but he didn't achieve his status by being someone's nephew - so I must 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."

After the game against DR Congo on Thursday, Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh praised what he called a "very confident performance" from Iwobi and admitted that the youngster has caught the eye with his performances so far on the tour of Belgium.

"It makes me feel welcome, I'm confident, motivated, I want to play in the next match - hopefully against Cameroon," Iwobi noted.

"It's been a crazy week for me [after signing a new long-term deal with Arsenal] I'm just enjoying the moment, hope it continues but I am going to enjoy it as it comes."

The Lagos-born youngster has set his sights on breaking into Arsene Wenger's first team squad after penning a new deal with Arsenal even though he is yet to make a competitive senior appearance in any competition.

He impressed for the Gunners during the pre-season, particularly when he was handed a chance to start against Lyon in the Emirates Cup.

"I just want to play for the first team as soon as I can and show the world what I'm able to do," the Arsenal under-21 captain added.

"I have gone through a lot with Arsenal so it will be a dream come true to get a chance."