Destined for bigger things - FIFA 17 Rising Star Alex Iwobi could surpass legend uncle Okocha

17:03 SAST 2016/12/05
FIFA Fut Rising Stars Iwobi
The 20-year-old has been turning on the style for the Gunners and for Nigeria thus far this season and could yet reach the same level of the former Bolton Wanderers legend

In case anyone was unaware of tradition he’s living up to, Alex Iwobi spelled it out for them in glorious technicolour. Collecting the ball in midfield, draped in Nigeria’s famous all-green, the teenager painted a rainbow in November’s World Cup qualifier against Algeria.

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“I didn’t teach him that,” said his uncle, two-time BBC African Footballer of the Year Jay-Jay Okocha, whose own rainbow flick one afternoon for Bolton Wanderers against Arsenal remains one of the iconic moments in Premier League history. A history that looks set to be punctuated by Iwobi for many years to come.

“When it comes to things like that I never really think about it,” revealed the 20-year-old. If it happens, it happens.”

A lot has been happening for the Lagos-born starlet from this famous footballing family. Iwobi arrived in England at the age of four and was snapped up by Arsenal’s academy just three years later.

He went on to represent the club at every age group and turned out for England at under-18 level, but pledged his international allegiances to his birthplace.

"It was a difficult decision picking Nigeria over England,” he told Arsenal’s official club website. “I'm very proud to represent Nigeria… The fans almost eat you up because they love you so much.”

The passion with which he has been greeted by the nation comes as little surprise. “He is the star we have been looking for," said former Nigeria and Arsenal man Nwankwo Kanu.

Iwobi may be the one Arsenal have been looking for, too. He scored in each of his first two Premier League starts last season and then grabbed two assists in a 3-3 draw at West Ham United.

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But if last season was his coming-out party, this 2016-17 is proving his breakthrough year. Now a regular in the starting XI, he’s appeared regularly in Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League games so far.

He has also featured in 10 of Arsenal's 14 Premier League games so far this season, registering three assists - only Alexis Sanchez has more.

The modest teenager admits he has been surprised by his impact – and that he’s even been given the opportunity to make one.

"Honestly I didn't expect to be where I am today… I thought a long time ago that I'd be out on loan,” he told Arsenal Player. "I just play like it's almost like my last, I treat it like it's my last moment here.”

There is little chance of that. Iwobi is living up to his great tradition. And with the club gunning to end a 12-year drought for a Premier League title, the young man painting rainbows may yet provide their long-awaited day in the sun.

Check out where Alex Iwobi ranks in the 50 Rising Stars of FIFA 17 Ultimate Team™ right here!