Alex Iwobi has established himself in the first team at Arsenal this season, but he thought a loan spell away from the club was going to be more likely.
Nigeria international Iwobi, who only made his Arsenal debut in October 2015, has started eight of Arsenal’s 11 Premier League matches this season and featured in all four of their Champions League outings.
The 20-year-old is eager to make the most of the opportunities coming his way from Arsene Wenger, admitting he expected to be sent elsewhere in order to gain first-team experience.
“Honestly I didn’t expect to be where I am today,” Iwobi told Arsenal Player.
“I thought a long time ago that I’d be on loan and probably get experience there before having experience in the first team, but the fact that the boss trusted me to jump into the first team as quick as I did, I’m just grateful for it.
“The same way I was able to break into it is the same way that I take the chance now.
“I play like it’s almost like my last game, I treat it like it’s my last moment here, so I do my best and I always put 100 per cent into whatever I do.”
Iwobi understands the pressure that comes with a starting berth at the Emirates Stadium, but is keen to do all he can to hold onto a place in Wenger’s first-choice XI.
“If you don’t do as well as you think you could’ve done, there’s other players, other international, great players, that can just step in,” he said. “So you just have to take the chance all the time and do your best when the time comes.
“The big thing is you need to stay fit and always need to give it your all. I mean, you’ve got to have the right attitude, you’ve got to be mentally prepared for whatever happens.
“Not everything is going to be smooth sailing for you so you’ve got to be prepared for all conditions.”