TVC N. Arsenal have long had a strong following in Africa’s most populous country, with the success enjoyed by Nigerian great Nwankwo Kanu in north London between 1999 and 2004 at least partially explaining the Gunners’ popularity.
Twitter data in 2015 placed Arsenal just ahead of local rivals Chelsea (who have had Olympic bronze medallist Mikel Obi in their squad for over a decade) as Nigeria’s most popular side and Iwobi’s experience on his competitive debut for his national side only serves to emphasise the devotion of supporters to Arsene Wenger’s side.
“When I got to come on against Egypt, I saw the love they have for the game,” Iwobi told ESPN Brasil. They just shouted ‘Arsenal’.
“Even though they knew my name, they just shouted Arsenal when I was coming on to the pitch, it was actually funny.
“It’s amazing the support they have for the club. They’re all very passionate for football and their favourite league is definitely the Premier League.”
Iwobi was the subject of a last-minute tussle between the Football Association and the Nigerian FA over his senior international future, with the Arsenal winger having represented England at youth level but opting to represent the country of his birth.
That will allow him to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha, one of the 1996 gold medal-winning side at the Atlanta Olympics. And it is little surprise that the 20-year-old holds his relative in such high regard.
“He was a big figure in Africa, as well in Nigeria,” Iwobi added. “He’s always been my idol.
“He doesn’t only help me on the pitch, he also helps me off the pitch, which is a key thing for me.”