Super Eagles youngster Alex Iwobi has credited the UEFA Youth League for accelerating his transition from a promising youth-team talent to first team player at Arsenal.
Iwobi featured in the first three editions of the Under-19 continental tournament (the tournament began in 2013) making his debut against Marseille and going on to establish himself in Arsenal’s senior squad in the second half of last season.
Iwobi went on to make his first UEFA Champions League start in the round of 16 against Barcelona last season. “It taught me quite a bit because you’re not only playing against English teams, you’re playing against foreign teams and you’re learning their tactics and how they play,” Iwobi told UEFA.com.
“It was such an experience for me because when I stepped into the first team it almost felt the same, even though the level is a bit higher. There’s the same organisation, the preparations are almost the same, so it did prepare me for when I was involved with the first team.”
“It certainly helps – it helped me and I’m sure it helps other players to feel like they’re in the Champions League, even though it’s just youth level.
“It’s still a very high competition. And for us at Under-19 level, the games are very hard and you do learn. It’s always a learning experience for the youngsters.”