Alex Iwobi described his early struggles at Everton as the catalyst for the eventual turnaround in his career at Goodison Park.
After joining Arsenal while still in primary school, the now 26-year-old hardly goes a week without being a slandered by the fans.
Iwobi, who made the move from Goodison Park for a fee of £34m in 2019, endured a difficult start to life on Merseyside under managers Marco Silva, Rafael Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti as he was unable to nail down a regular role in their teams.
Following the arrival of Frank Lampard in January, the Nigeria international has gone from being the most criticized player to the most celebrated.
He played a huge role in the club avoiding relegation at the end of last season, and he hasn’t looked back ever since.
“In football you’re not always going to have highs,” he told Everton’s official website. “I’ve had plenty of lows before I even came to Everton and I’ve always been able to overcome them.”
“I have a good support system around me – my family, my friends and people at Everton who are there to talk to you and help you through difficult situations. And, at the same time, every footballer is going through similar things. It’s good having people to talk to.
“I like to remain positive as much as I can. I remember what made me, what got me to where I am.
“I use the difficult moments as motivation and drive to move forward – to prove people wrong, to make sure an obstacle doesn’t get the better of me.
“If you don’t go through losses, you won’t learn. Going through those rough patches only made me stronger mentally.”
Iwobi is now one of Frank Lampard’s most trusted soldiers at the moment, and the midfielder has provided two assists for the team this season.
His second assist was vital, because it ended a run of six game without a win for Everton and huge a relief for manager Frank Lampard.
“He was possibly a bit surprised at how I train – I always give 100 per cent in training and it’s just getting that out in matches’, Iwobi speaking on his relationship with Lampard.
“He told me to play the way I train and he wanted me to go out and express myself. He gave me the confidence to do that.
“My first game – my first start – was against Leeds and he told me to do my stuff and to enjoy it. Ever since then it’s been working out.
“I spoke to a few Chelsea players around the time he came in and they all told me that, because he was a player recently, he understands what everyone goes through as a player mentally.
“He keeps the environment positive and I’ve seen that for myself.
“Obviously, we were in a difficult time when he came in last season but he still managed to make sure everyone was up and focused on trying to win games, even when it was hard,” He concluded.