Alex Iwobi is an inspiration to Arsenal’s academy prospects, says Tafari Moore
PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:43 17 November 2016
Arsenal youngster Tafari Moore says Alex Iwobi’s spectacular rise through the ranks is a source of inspiration for the other academy prospects who are also hoping to push their way into Arsene Wenger’s senior squad.
Iwobi was virtually unknown this time last year, but rose to prominence after earning a place in the Gunners first-team squad back in January.
The 20-year-old forward, who is now a full international for Nigeria, is a regular starter under Wenger and has moved ahead of England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and £17million summer signing Lucas Perez in the pecking order.
And 19-year-old Moore, who is currently on a season-long loan with Dutch club FC Utrecht, says Iwobi’s rapid progress has given every youngster at the club hope that they can achieve similar success.
Speaking exclusively to this title he said: “Alex’s journey into the first team has been a real inspiration for not only myself, but all the youngsters – he’s one of the main figures for us to look up to.
“I’m very close with Alex and have seen at close hand what qualities he has. When we were younger we were training with each other all the time and we played together in the Under-21s too.
“To now see him in the first team is just brilliant. The boss clearly believes in him and Alex is repaying that faith. Young players can make the grade, especially at Arsenal – it’s just about taking your chance when it comes.
“Alex’s came against Barcelona [last season] and he was outstanding, and after that the rest is history.”
Moore is optimistic he has a future at the Emirates himself, and says his loan move has been beneficial when it comes to the development of his game and also his character.
“At first I was pretty nervous because it was a different country and culture, and I wasn’t sure if it was something that I could withstand for such a long period,” he said.
“Being the youngest out of five, for me to make the move was big and it didn’t really hit me until the day I had to leave. It was a sad day, but my mind was focused and we all knew what this loan could do for me.
“I didn’t come over to Holland just because it’s a good level of football. It’s also a very technical league so they play similarly to what I do at Arsenal. That was a big plus and something which made this move stand out ahead of the others.
“I know they like to get their full-backs to press high, and I’m a player who likes to get down the wing and use my pace. We didn’t want to go to a club where I was just kicking the ball long all the time. This loan was about me improving my game, so we had no doubt coming out here to Holland would improve my game a lot.
“I believe I have a long-term future [at Arsenal]. When I was out injured for seven months and came back, they offered me a two-year extension and that was such a huge boost for me and gave me the belief I can be a first-team player in the future.
“I just have to keep working hard and hopefully the club will give me a platform to show what I can do, just like they’ve done with Alex.”