The two-time Champions League winner was sent to Lancashire on loan in 2002 and went on enjoy legendary status at the Reebok Stadium, eventually departing the Trotters in 2008 after making more than 170 Premier League outings.
Campo was joined at Bolton by other illustrious names including Youri Djorkaeff, Bruno N’Gotty and one Jay-Jay Okocha – Iwobi’s uncle – which resulted in the young Gunner becoming a Bolton fan from an early age.
Speaking in the September 2016 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, Iwobi says:
“The first shirt I ever owned was a Bolton shirt with my uncle’s name on the back. I wanted my hair like Ivan Campo’s at one point. My mum told me to calm down!
“One flick he [Okocha] taught me took a month to learn. But when I did it it in a junior match I thought: ‘Wow, I can do it!’ I’ve always looked at him as a role model, and he’s always told me to express myself.”
Expected to go out on loan in 2015/16, the 20-year-old instead enjoyed a breakthrough second half of the season at the Emirates Stadium, making 10 Premier League appearances and scoring against Everton and Watford.
The Nigeria international was also summoned to start a Champions League tie against Barcelona at the Camp Nou – not that he was allowed to spill the beans.
“When I found out I was playing against Barcelona I had to keep it secret and I don’t know how I did it – I wanted to tell everyone!” he says. “The feelings were crazy. When I’m playing I can’t hear all the noise, but before the game everyone was singing: ‘Messi, Messi’, ‘Neymar, Neymar’. Playing against Dani Alves was a lesson for me: he’s such a great right-back. At the end I tried to rush on and swap shirts but they’d all been grabbed!”
Read the full interview with Alex Iwobi in the September 2016 issue of FourFourTwo. Accompanied by our 100-page Season Preview - rating 128 teams - the magazine features the 81 things we want from the new season, including interviews with Demarai Gray, Javi Martinez, Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Brendan Galloway, Kelechi Iheancaho, Glenn Murray, David Wagner, Sheyi Ojo and Michail Antonio. Plus, we go One-on-One with Nemanja Vidic, meet footballers' yes men - the player liaison officers who cater to the stars’ whims - and the Wiki geeks - the men who make it possible for fans to use Wikipedia for their football info - as well as asking do team talks matter? The answer might surprise you. Go get it, then subscribe!
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