The Nigeria international joined the Toffees from Arsenal after helping Nigeria to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Alex Iwobi has disclosed how he battled the negativity that surrounded him when he was considered a flop at Goodison Park.
Portuguese manager Marco Silva was in charge when Iwobi joined Everton from Arsenal in 2019. But Silva only lasted until December before Everton sacked him.
Iwobi has since worked with Duncan Ferguson (as caretaker boss), Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez, and Frank Lampard.
But the Nigerian playmaker found difficulty finding his best form under many of these coaches.
At the peak of his struggles, Iwobi has revealed, in a tell-all interview, that Benitez even charged him to leave Everton as he was not guaranteed playing time.
“He told me I should leave Everton. I said I’d rather stay and fight for my place and take my chances when they come. I was told by him that I wasn’t good enough, but I wanted to stay and showcase my ability. I’m delighted I have done that,” Iwobi said.
“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.
“I can deal with negativity much better now that I have grown up.
“When I was younger, I didn’t know how to handle those things. I completely switched off from football; I want my own space and thoughts; I don’t like to talk or have someone telling me what to do.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I would play football with my friends, especially when I wasn’t in the team. Little games, maybe twice a week, just to enjoy it. I never lost my love for football, even though I saw all the negativity.”
Iwobi has rediscovered his best form under Lampard, though, after picking up a new role in centre-midfield.
Considered to be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League at the moment, Iwobi has chipped in one goal and five assists in 14 appearances for Everton.
Only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has notched more assists in the English top flight this term.