The 24-year-old talks up his feeling after wearing the iconic shirt number on his debut appearance for the three-time African champions
Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo said he will never forget the international friendly match against Ukraine where he wore the no. 10 shirt on his Nigeria debut.
In September 2019, the London-born star made his international debut for Nigeria at Dnipro Arena and it did not take long for him to make a statement as he scored the opening goal in the 2-2 draw with the European country.
A month later, the 24-year-old scored his second goal for the Super Eagles in another friendly outing against Brazil in Singapore which ended 1-1.
Aribo, who has established himself as a key player in Gernot Rohr’s team, was handed the iconic no. 10 shirt in both friendly games two years ago and he described the feeling to play for Nigeria as surreal and crazy.
“Getting called up was a surreal feeling and one I definitely didn’t expect, from where I’ve come from but it just showed me how far I’ve come,” the Rangers star told Mail on Sunday.
“I’ll never forget my first game with the No.10. They left the spot [in the changing room] for me and I didn’t sit there because I was thinking “this can’t be me”.
“They said “no, this is you” and when I was warming up I was thinking “yo, this is crazy. The ten for Nigeria.” I didn’t know how to feel.
“A crazy feeling. In football, let alone Nigeria the No.10 shirt is iconic. If you’re wearing it you’ve got to be a good player so I feel like I have to be good.”
This season, Aribo has played a key role in helping Rangers secure the Premiership title and they are on a 35-game unbeaten run in the league with three matches left to play for.
Aside from his eye-catching displays in the middle of the park, the Nigeria international has contributed seven goals and four assists in the Scottish top-flight so far, and he has recalled some of his memorable experiences since he moved to Glasgow from Charlton Athletic in June 2019.
“I would say probably the day I signed [was when he realised just how big Rangers are],” he continued.
“It was like a whole different ball game. I was staying in a hotel initially and went into town quickly just to get a few bits and people are asking me for pictures, stopping me and I’m thinking “wow this is my first day, I’ve just signed.” That was overwhelming.
“Another experience was my first Old Firm, another day that just showed me this is massive. I couldn’t hear myself thinking.
“You know when you try and speak to yourself in a game it was so loud. The atmosphere was amazing. The occasion actually got the better of me that day and it was so much for me to take in.
“The title this year is my first one. I love this feeling and just want to have it as much as possible in my career.”