Nigeria international Alex Iwobi has revealed how recent tests conducted on Everton players showed he was the best runner in the team.
The former Arsenal winger, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Tuesday, has been one of the leading lights for the Toffees under manager Frank Lampard at Goodison Park. He was in great form playing for the entire 90 minutes as Everton defeated Chelsea 1-0 to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
His recent tireless runs have caught the eyes of many and he has explained a set of blood tests conducted by the whole squad at the beginning of the campaign proved he can be one of the best runners in the squad.
“They [tests] showed I can be one of the best runners in the team. I don’t know the specifics, I don’t understand the science, and it is something to do with lactate. Doucs [Abdoulaye Doucoure], Andros [Townsend], and I were top,” Iwobi said as quoted by Echo.
“It’s weird, it’s always been there. I have always been able to run like I am now. There is nothing different about my training.
“I think my teammates knew I had that stamina, especially after the blood tests. Now they are seeing it…’You weren’t lying, you can run’. I just say the change of position helped me.
“It is where I grew up playing, I like to get on the half-turn, get the ball forward. I am always trying to play to the attacking players and make something happen.
“When I play infield, I get on the ball more and can take it up the pitch. I told him [Lampard] I’d played there for Arsenal but not had the opportunity at Everton…that it’s where I am most comfortable and the position I play for my national team.
“He tried it and it’s worked, so far. I felt he was half surprised I could run, he called me a machine.”
Iwobi has further explained how Lampard asked him to have tactical awareness after their top-flight game against Leicester City.
“The manager spoke to me after Leicester about having a bit more tactical awareness,” he said: “It is nice to have the energy to run and chase and get back, but maybe sometimes preserve it, chill out so you’re not burned out.’
“Other than that he says maintain the work ethic because it really helps the crowd engage with the team. Apart from that opening 10-15 minutes against Leicester, when I was literally chasing everything, I have generally got the press right.
“The manager knows I have the ability to press and quickly get back into shape.”
On managing 90 minutes in recent matches, Iwobi said: “I still can’t help, when I see someone is about to get dragged, thinking, ‘Is it going to be number 17?’. In the game, I feel I can run non-stop.
“As soon as the final whistle goes, I am shattered and think, ‘How have I done that?’. I have been dropping on the pitch, falling on my knees or to the floor. It comes on instantly, the feeling of, ‘I am done’.
“I have normally been the first one dragged off. Now, the manager has faith in my ability to run for 90 minutes, to give the same level of effort for the whole game.