Alex Iwobi has revealed Arsenal were close to releasing him during his time with the club’s youth academy.
The Nigeria international joined the Arsenal academy at the tender age of nine and made his first-team debut in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday in October 2015.
Iwobi has since developed into an important member of Arsene Wenger’s team, but he has made it clear things could very well have panned out differently.
“I was almost released at 14, again at 16 and just about got a professional contract after that,” the 20-year-old forward told Standard Sport.
“Especially at 14, I thought I was very close to not making it. It was stressful as I was going through school, trying to balance that and make sure I was still signed for Arsenal. It was really difficult for me.
“We usually found out in December who might be kept on but I kept on getting the question ‘is he good enough?’ So they extended it to see if I could do something and it went to March and then April. Luckily I did enough.
“At 16, I got the option to leave but I always felt at home at Arsenal and that was where I wanted to be.
“At 16, there were a lot of good players, a few internationals in the team at a young age so it was difficult for me to stand out in the games. They always want the best and I wasn’t really up there at that age. The fact that I kept getting chances makes me feel lucky.”