Iwobi reveals how ‘everyone wanted him to go’ after falling out of favour under ex-Everton coach Benitez
- Iwobi explained how he dealt with tough spell under Benitez
- Nigerian international nearly left Everton in January 2022
- Super Eagle turned around his fortunes under Lampard
WHAT HAPPENED? Iwobi was deemed surplus to requirements by Benitez after failing to impress the former Liverpool and Newcastle coach during his short stint at Goodison Park last season, and the club was ready to offload him in the January transfer window.
Iwobi, who has 13 starts so far this season, managed just five starts and four substitute appearances by November 2021, and had to deal with criticism not just from his manager but from fans who were not impressed by his output.
He, however, stayed put and has become a key player under Benitez’s successor Frank Lampard who has given him a new role in midfield.
WHAT DID IWOBI SAY? “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I would play football with my friends, especially when I wasn’t in the team,” Iwobi told I News.
“Little games, maybe twice a week, just to enjoy it. I never lost my love for football, even though I saw all the negativity.
“It felt like everyone wanted me to go. They said, ‘If you want to play football, you would be better off on loan’.”
“It was like, ‘You are not in our plans, try to prove yourself elsewhere’. I said I would rather take my chances and stay. I felt I had something to give and wanted to show my ability.
“The supporters were probably thinking, ‘We are better off getting someone who can do the job’. I was told in the past I wasn’t good enough. When I hear that it motivates me to try to prove my point.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Iwobi has had a great turnaround and is now among the first names on the team sheet, having turned the jeers into cheers.
The Nigerian was moved from the wing into a free midfield role by Lampard where he has become an instant success, providing six assists while scoring one goal so far.
WHAT’S MORE? Iwobi wants to take his game to the next level and influence proceedings on the pitch like some of the Premier League’s best midfielders.
“I look at players like Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva and what they do for Manchester City. That is what I would like to contribute. I don’t just want an assist or goal every five or 10 games. I always want to get on the ball and feel I can influence games. I don’t have to keep it simple.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Everton host Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday and Iwobi will be expected to play a starring role for the Toffees.