The Super Eagles midfielder was granted an interview following their narrow 1-0 win over Westham in the English Premier League. The Nigerian player was pivotal in Everton’s first win of the season. His stint for the month has earned him a nominee among EPL’s best players for September. Iwobi has been able to redefine his career under coach Frank Lampard, playing crucially for Everton since the former Chelsea player and manager came to the club.
Iwobi, who signed from Arsenal three years ago last month, joined the Blues aged 23, having made 149 appearances for the Gunners and winning the FA Cup and reaching the Europa League final along the way.
But, in truth, the first two-and-a-bit years on Merseyside were filled with more downs than ups. There were mitigating circumstances, of course. Not least four different permanent managers and the differing preferences in terms of systems and positions – more on that later – that come with those changes.
Now, however, Iwobi has firmly established himself as one of the most important players in the squad and, despite his characteristically modest reflections, a clear fan favourite.
But was there ever a moment where he thought things wouldn’t work out at Everton?
“No,” Iwobi explains, without hesitation. “I never had the mindset that it wasn’t going to work here.
“I had the mindset that I’d turn it around and when the opportunity came with the new manager, I used it as a new chapter of my life and said to myself, ‘Forget the past. What’s happened has happened… Now let’s go again’.
“What I realized here is fans appreciate 100 per cent, as long as you show that you can do everything because there’s a reason you’re here at Everton – because you hathe ve ability.”
“I had the mindset that I’d turn it around and when the opportunity came with the new manager, I used it as a new chapter of my life and said to myself, ‘Forget the past. What’s happened has happened… Now let’s go again?”
Overcoming adversity is a necessity for any footballer harbouring hopes of reaching the summit of the game and, having become accustomed to the cut-throat nature of professional football as a teenager, Iwobi is well-versed in dealing with testing periods.
After joining Arsenal while still in primary school, the now 26-year-old narrowly escaped being released by the North London club at 14 and again at 16 after being told he was not good enough.
“In football, you’re not always going to have highs,” he says. “I’ve had plenty of lows before I even came to Everton, and I’ve always been able to overcome them.
“I have a good support system around me – my family, my friends, and people at Everton who are there to talk to you and help you through difficult situations. And, at the same time, every footballer is going through similar things. It’s good having people to talk to.
“I like to remain positive as much as I can. I remember what made me, what got me to where I am.
“I use the difficult moments as motivation and drive to move forward – to prove people wrong, to make sure an obstacle doesn’t get the better of me.
“If you don’t go through losses, you won’t learn. Going through those rough patches only made me stronger mentally.”