There can be little debate or argument that the number 10 jersey occupies a special place in the hearts of all those who love our beautiful game.
There are too many superstar names that have adorned the hallowed 10 jersey for us to discuss them all here in one place, so we’ve started a series. Nigeria’s up first. Super Eagles can lay claim to some of the finest and most gloriously gifted players.
Jay Jay Okocha
There’s no other place to start than with the late, great Jay Jay Okocha. A man who was an archetypal number 10 boasted trickery, dribbling skills, flamboyance and the ability to make you expect the unexpected on a football pitch.
Okocha has a Stadium named after him in Delta State.
The master of the dink. Lawal chipped goalkeepers for fun and carved out an entertaining career spanning stints with Shooting Stars, Stationery Stores and Abiola Babes. He picked up 86 caps and scored 12 goals for Nigeria.
The diminutive midfield magician’s invention and vision made him one of the finest creative players of the late 1980s.
Esin was an elegant, effortless dribbler with a low centre of gravity and superb balance.
Indiscipline plagued Esin’s time in Europe but he still dazzled fans.
“Mercurial” is a word that’s thrown around a lot to describe footballers, and it’s one that pretty neatly sums up Henry Nwosu. The ex ACB and ASEC Mimosas man was as stylish and elegant a footballer as you’re ever likely to dream about watching in the flesh. He played the game at his own pace and he was a joy to behold.
John Obi Mikel
The great man has been a living, breathing symbol of honour for the past 16 years. Scoring goals, creating goals and providing hundreds upon hundreds of chances for teammates have all been in a day’s work for John Obi Mikel.
Phew. The next step in the series will zero in on the most famous number 10s down the years for the Golden Eaglets. The Nigeria U17 has had quite a few of them so get ready.