The number 10 shirt is one of the most adored jersey in international football, and the flare for Nigeria’s number 10 jersey isn’t an exception.
Having a long and illustrious history, those two emphatic digits on the back of a shirt somehow inflates the worth of the player wearing it. Few other shirts carry such weight of expectation, and Nigeria has produced some insanely talented footballers who have gone on to adorn the iconic number.
So, here we take a look at five of the best players to wear Nigeria’s number 10 jersey:
5. RABIU IBRAHIM.
At number five on our list of the best players to wear Nigeria’s number 10 jersey is Rabiu Ibrahim. The former Celtic FC and PSV Eindhoven attacking midfielder, currently plays for Slovak club ŠK Slovan Bratislava. Ibrahim was a member of the Nigerian under-17 team in the 2007 FIFA World Cup in South Korea, scoring in the first match against France as the nation went on to win the competition.
Rabiu Ibrahim wore the number 10 jersey while playing for Nigeria at the, U17 World cup in 2007, the U20 World cup in 2009 and won his first full cap for the super eagles in June 2015 at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
4. EMMANUEL EKWUEME
Born Nov 22, 1979 (now age 40), Emmanuel Ekwueme is one of the best Nigerian players to ever wear the number 10 jersey. Although he wore the number 10 jersey for a few times, the defensive midfielder had a key impact in the year 2004-2005 season for Nigeria. He spent most a larger part of his career playing in the polish league, where he won the polish championship and polish super cup.
Ekwueme made 14 appearances for Nigeria, and won the 2004 AFCON Bronze medal with the Super Eagles.
3. NOSA IGIEBOR
At number three on our list of the best players to wear Nigeria’s number 10 jersey is Nosa Igiebor. The former Sharks and Hapoel Tel Aviv central midfielder, was called up to the the Nigeria U23 team side in 2011 and performed brilliantly for the team. He was also part of the AFCON 2013 winning team.
Nosa Igiebor made 15 appearances for the Nigerian team and scored just 2 goals while playing for the super eagles. He also won the Israel championship and Israeli cup respectively.
2. JOHN OBI MIKEL.
With a genuine claim of being one of the greatest African footballer of all time, Mikel Obi has taken football to a new level since his emergence as Nigeria’s great hope over a decade ago.
Mikel represented the Nigeria under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament (behind Lionel Messi) as Nigeria finished runner-up second to Argentina
Mikel’s first appearance in the number 10 shirt for the super eagles was in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. At the tournament, he scored one goal and registered one assist.
Mikel would later were the number 10 jersey for twelve years, till when he retired from international football in 2019. Obi made 89 caps in the iconic jersey (91 in total) and was able to register just six goals throughout his time with the Super Eagles.. Making him the longest holder of the jersey in Nigerian football history after Jay-Jay Okocha.
In his international career with Nigeria, Mikel won the AFCON 2013 title and the 2016 Olympics Bronze medal, alongside other laurels.
1. AUSTIN “JAY-JAY” OKOCHA.
Regarded by some as the African greatest footballer of all-time, Okocha is the man with whom every emerging Nigerian star is compared to following his achievements with the Super Eagles.
Possessing incredible agility, close control and an ability to accelerate away from hapless opponents at will, Okocha was exhilarating to watch in full flight and remains one of the most iconic figures the game has seen.
The Attacking Midfielder, wore the number 10 jersey for 13 years, right from his first game with the super eagles in 1993 till his last game in 2006. Making him the longest holder of the jersey in Nigerian football history.
Jay-Jay wore the number 10 jersey in 75 international appearances for Nigeria, scoring a total of 15 goals. In which he won the AFCON title in 1994, The summer Olympic games (1996), one silver medal (2000) and three AFCON bronze medals (2002,2004,2006 respectively).