Thoughts on recent comments of Alex Iwobi and the retirement of Philip Lahm
About 24 hours ago, a report was published of Alex Iwobi saying Jack Wilshere, 25, and Francis Coquelin, 24, are his biggest motivation at Arsenal. Shocking, isn’t it? I mean you would expect such a young player to look up to the Andres Iniestas of this world, the Bergkamp, Jay Jay and the likes. I mean, why would anyone want to be a Jack Wilshere right now? so why look up to him? But hey, at age 20 and at being a graduate of the Arsenal academy, Iwobi’s comments are nowhere near shocking, and are very much in order.
Let’s have a look at what he said once again
“The biggest influence on me] would probably be Jack Wilshere , but he has not been around recently. He talks to me off the pitch because he has been through the same system as me, I just watch what he does — especially as I grew up as a No10 and he’s a No10.
“Now I would say it is Francis Coquelin, he is always talking to me. After the Watford game he told me what I did well, and what I need to improve on. He’s definitely one who keeps me in check.”
The focal point of the comment is that “they, Wilshere and Coq, had gone through what, the same process, Iwobi is going through”, and if we look at it that way, we will not but say Iwobi’s comments are very much in order, football wise (and I don’t expect anyone to take this outside football)
Jack Wilshere broke through at Arsenal at an age a number of his mates were still at the academy. He made his first appearance for arsenal at the age of 16 in 2008, becoming the youngest player ever for Arsenal to do so. At 19, in 2011, Wilshere bossed a Barcelona midfield that had Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez on the pitch. In doing that, he set a bar high, so high that he has not been able to keep up since that match.
That is how blessed Wilshere his, that is how Talented he is, that is how tremendous his breakthrough was. He immediately became an iconic figure and reference of hope and “goals” achievable by any youngster, not just at Arsenal but in England. He almost became a cult hero at 20. Every other player who tries to do what he has done is dubbed “the new Jack Wilshere”. Josh McEachran tried it at Chelsea but he failed. Only Ross Barkley and Dele Alli have come close to what Wilshere achieved at such a young age. Moreso Wilshere plays in the same position (amongst very many other ones Jack plays), No 10, that Iwobi favours.
And you are wondering how he could be described as a big impact by Iwobi, because he smokes and he has been in trouble a number or times? Cut the crap. Don’t let our hypocritical morality in this part of the world stop of from seeing the point Iwobi is making. Wilshere till now is still a player every young player hoping to breakthrough at a big club and at a young age would look up to, in a way.
Coquelin broke through at Arsenal when he had just a year left on his contract after years of consecutive loans. He was recalled from a loan at Chalrlton athletic in 2014 and he has since established himself as one of the best combative midfielders in the team.
The breakthrough stories of both players are sorts of motivation for young players, especially at Arsenal.
Having said that, Iwobi mentioned the fact that these players take their time off the pitch to comment on his progress. That is a thing all players of his age need and cherish. Bergkamp and Iniesta will not call him every match to tell him this and this were things he did wrong during the game and he can do it better. He needs someone he sees all the time to do that. And whoever is doing that for him at this point would be his biggest motivator.
Now, Iwobi hasn’t said these players are his role models. Not people that define his aspirations in his career. Just people that have had much impact on him and his development at Arsenal having walked the same path he is walking.
PS: The fact that Wilshere smokes does not make him a devil. And even with that, you can’t take his achievements away from him. Even though, at 25, no player would want to be a Wilshere. But at 16, 17, 18, 19, even Messi would have wanted to be like Wilshere.
Just like I said earlier this morning while commenting on his retirement on a sports radio programme, Philip Lahm represents an age that players football with so much pride, grace, patriotism, professionalism, beauty, composure an consistency. The same age that has produced Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Totti, and the likes. He has spent all his life at a club — something extremely rare for any player at this time, especially with the arrival of Chinese clubs with their monstrous pays-- and he has won virtually every thing in football. On top of that, after over 500 matches, he has still never been sent off. whoa. A generation defining player like Lahm deserves nothing but our utmost respect as he bows out. He is arguably the best utility player of his generation.
However, isn’t it rather shocking that he’s bowing out at such an age when the likes of El-Haddary, Francesco Totti, Sylvian Distin, and Zlatan Ibrahimovich are still actively in the game? Maybe, Maybe not. For one, Philip Lahm is not Zlatan Ibrahimovich. Different players, different positions, different health issues.
Lahm said sometimes last year that his retirement would depend on how he feels in his body. And if he has come out now to announce his retirement, he probably sees that he might not be able to carry on at this best. A certain Daniel Agger called time on his career sometimes last year when his body could no longer carry on.
The age really does not matter to me, Philip Lahm will go down as one of the best players in modern football. He deserves his break. May the force be with him.