Arsenal star opens up on reasons for turning down England duty

Alex Iwobi reveals he felt he had to follow his heart by choosing to represent Nigeria instead of the Three Lions.

Burgeoning Arsenal star Alex Iwobi has opened up for the first time on his reasons for choosing to represent Nigeria instead of England at senior level, telling the Sun that he felt he had to "follow his heart".

Iwobi was born in Lagos in the African country but has previously been a youth international for England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 level.

After not featuring for any Three Lions side since 2013, the 19-year-old elected to play for the country of his birth rather than his adopted home before making his senior debut at club level.

However, since that decision Iwobi has enjoyed a quick rise to prominence, scoring twice in 15 appearances for the Gunners, and after starting for the Gunners at the Nou Camp against Barcelona in the Champions League in mid-March has become a key player for the club in the Premier League.

Despite many suggesting that he may regret not choosing England now that he is being billed as a star of the future, the youngster insisted he had no regrets and told the Sun that his decision to represent Nigeria was an emotional one after family advised him to follow his heart.

Iwobi admitted: "I understand why some England fans are surprised with my decision. It was a difficult one to make, one I thought very carefully about. I have no regrets.

"I have always been part of the England youth set-up and have 11 caps at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 levels. But when I was first invited by the Nigeria FA, my dad told me to follow my heart and that is what I have done. I also sought the opinion of my uncle, who shared his experiences.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about how football is run in Nigeria but I decided to see for myself. It was an emotional moment donning the green and white colours."

Iwobi made his debut for the country of his birth in a 2-0 defeat to the Democratic Republic of Congo in October, but is yet to add to his single cap for his country.

However, he admitted that he is hoping to increase his tally by featuring for the country at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Iwobi is expected to feature for Arsenal again in some capacity when they take on West Ham United at Upton Park on Saturday.

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