Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has rather cheekily suggested to Arsenal attacker Alex Iwobi he will soon retire from the playing for the senior national team.
Members of the national team faced the press on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Zambia with England based Iwobi seated beside his captain Mikel.
With Mikel nearing the twilight of his international career, many Nigerian fans have touted Iwobi, a nephew of Super Eagles legend Jay-Jay Okocha to be the heir apparent to the “Number 10” throne.
Our Chief Football Writer, Fisayo Dairo asked the Arsenal star if he could not wait to have Mikel leave the team so he could inherit the Number 10 jersey. The question brought general laughter.
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“I don’t want to talk about this because as you can see, my captain is already slapping me,” Iwobi said trailed by another round of laughter.
“But about the shirt, I’m not really bothered about the shirt. If I get number 10, I get it all I know is I’m here to represent my country and I’m proud to wear the colours,” he added.
While many footballers prefer to don the same jersey numbers both at club and country level, Iwobi wears 17 at his English club Arsenal, the same worn by Nigeria’s vice captain Ogenyi Onazi at national level.
“I’ve not really thought about the shirt number I’m wearing and really my Uncle does not pressure me since I thought it for myself to play for this country.”
Responding on a lighter note, Mikel took the microphone and tell the 21-year old.
“Don’t worry, I will soon retire for you,” said Mikel who was tricked by Iwobi’s skill, (a “snake-bite” as it is called in local parlance) in Wednesday’s training.
Iwobi scored for Nigeria in their qualifying victory over Zambia last October and he is pushing for a start on Saturday after having missed September’s duels against Cameroon.