As much as I tend to de-emphasize this part of athletes, particularly Premier League athletes because they’re half a world away and I’ll never meet them, athletes are, in fact, just people, with families, lives, feelings, and emotions, just like real people. Who knew?
Alex Iwobi, Arsenal’s 20 year old sensation, is one of those people. And it turns out that, unlike a lot of 20 year olds who are given ridiculous amounts of money and equally ridiculous amounts of fame, Iwobi is able to stay pretty sane about his situation. Having an uncle (Jay-Jay Okocha) who has been in his shoes and who gives him advice helps, but he’s also grounded by his family:
Iwobi’s mother used to make him perform exercises in their living room, his father drove him to every training session and game during his formative years, while sister Marie, a year younger than Alex and studying at university, briefly had designs on becoming a footballer.
With a foundation like that, it’s not surprising that young Alex has kept a level head while his life has taken a turn towards superstardom. He talks more about his life in an excellent piece today that touches on, among other things, what Iwobi might have done had football not panned out:
Iwobi admits he had no back-up plan had he failed to become a footballer. “I’d probably be in uni,” he said. “Studying what? I don’t know. I was alright at maths. I didn’t like it, though.”
He also tells the story of how he was followed home from training once, and of how fans greet him in public. It’s a fun read.
The piece concludes with the information that the match against Stoke is dedicated to the Arsenal Foundation, and both Arsene Wenger and all the players will be donating a day’s wages to the Foundation, to support the good work they do in London and around the world.