Alex Iwobi admitted it was a "dream" to play against one of the best teams in the world after thinking he would be shipped out at the start of the season.
Arsenal teenager Alex Iwobi has admitted to the club's official website that it was "crazy" to have been selected to start against Barcelona at the Nou Camp and revealed that he had expected to be sent out on loan at the start of the season.
The 19-year-old was given the nod by Arsene Wenger to make his first European start for the Gunners in their Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with the Spanish giants at one of the most famous stadiums in world football on Wednesday night.
Although the North London side lost 3-1 on the night to crash out of the competition with a 5-1 aggregate defeat, Iwobi played 72 minutes and could even have marked his dream appearance with a goal had his finish from a good position been more composed.
The Nigerian international admitted that he did not even expect to be at the club this season, let alone find himself gracing the Nou Camp turf.
He told the Arsenal website: "It's crazy, playing against the best players in the world. It's a young man's dream. Especially at the age of 19, I never thought I would be here playing against the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
"I didn't know how to feel, I was buzzing, I just wanted to go and prove to the world what I would do. I wanted to see if I could match up to the best in the world, I couldn't wait to touch the pitch.
"I never thought I would get this far. Honestly I thought I was going to go on loan at the start of the season, but the manager has shown faith in me and I'm trying to repay that faith and prove him right every time I play."
Iwobi has enjoyed a first breakthrough into the senior set-up at the Emirates Stadium this season, making his first-team debut in a League Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday in October.
The forward, who has been with the Gunners since he was in primary school, has gone on to make 13 appearances in four different competitions for the club this season after being given his first chance by Wenger.
He will be hoping to play some part again this weekend as Arsenal attempt to resurrect their faltering title challenge when they travel to Goodison Park to face Everton.