When you think of the number 10 shirt at QPR, a different player might pop into your head depending on when you first became a football fan. ‘R’ Gen contributor Liam Gleeson talks through the iconic shirt’s importance…
Among the fanbase, I think it is more than safe to say that the number 10 shirt is one of the most important and prestigious parts of the club. To the club, it’s more than a number on the back of a shirt.
It resonates with the attacking philosophy of entertainment, flair and ingenuity which was evident to see in the players that were gifted with the opportunity of wearing this coveted shirt. As I have grown up, number 10 has rapidly become my favourite football number as well as my favourite position on the pitch. To take the responsibility of creating chances, finding pockets and getting involved in the final third takes some skill.
If we go right back to my first few years of supporting the club, I remember my father exclaiming about Stan Bowles and Rodney Marsh and how they were the greatest players he’d seen.
At the time, I never really understood why they meant so much to him, especially Stan as many of our older readers will relate with. As I have grown up watching the rollercoaster of emotions known as Queens Park Rangers Football Club, I have acknowledged the significance of not just the players who have worn the shirt but the remarkable nature of the shirt itself.
Every season for the past 15 or so years we must have had a creative spark in the squad who may not have worn the 10 shirt but have harmonized the club’s ideology of said excitement. Players like Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook, Rowan Vine, Akos Buzsaky, Harry Redknapp’s bestie Niko Kranjcar, Tjaronn Chery, Yeni Ngbakoto, Luke Freeman, and, Bright-Osayi Samuel and Chris Willock. That’s just to name a few…
Out of that quite astonishing list, It would be rather perplexing if I didn’t talk more about a certain someone.
Yes, the elephant in the room, you guessed it, Adel Taarabt. Simply, the greatest footballer the Championship has ever witnessed. He single-handedly carried us to the Championship title under Warnock. What sane person gets 40 goal involvements in 44 games FROM MIDFIELD?
To this day, I still firmly believe that Taarabt is one of, if not the most talented footballers I have ever seen in the flesh and I’ve seen the likes of Jose Bosingwa and Alex Baptiste so you know I’m telling the truth.
He epitomised the expressiveness of the attacking ideologies which are rooted in the number. He could turn a game on a sixpence on his own and in the promotion-winning season, the number of games he did just that was nothing short of magnificent. He wasn’t actually given the number 10 by the club until the 2012/13 season in the Premier League, his last season at the club, in which Rangers comfortably finished last (typical).
Admittedly, Taarabt didn’t fulfil his entire potential and it was heartbreaking to see his career derail going as low as Benfica’s reserves. In my eyes, if he continued his growth after *that* season then he could’ve gone on to be one of Europe’s elite. For now, he’s playing as an 8 or even as a defensive midfielder for Benfica in the Champions League, so not too bad after all.
In more recent seasons we’ve been treated to players like Ebere Eze, the perfect representation of entertainment. Watching this young man’s development at Loftus Road was an absolute joy and pleasure. Given the number 10 shirt in the 2018-19 season, Eze excelled the following season in a Rangers side alongside Ilias Chair, Nahki Wells (come home please), Jordan Hugill and Bright Osayi-Samuel.
This side defined goals and our playing style which the gaffer has attempted to implement with inspiration from our ‘76 side. Furthermore, the 19/20 side scored 73 goals in all competitions with Eze being involved in 22 of them which would see him be named in the Championship Team of the Season and get a richly deserved move to the Premier League. His silky skills and almost effortless ability to glide past challenges and his clinical end product made him one of the most exhilarating products to come out of Loftus Road.
It’s such a shame that Eze received that awful Achilles injury in May whilst being on the cusp of the England Senior squad. Seeing him perform in the Premier League has made all QPR fans proud of what he has done and we all know what he is capable of doing.
Upon reflection, If I haven’t mentioned it already, the number 10 shirt is paramount to the club and to the fans. I really hope we continue to embrace the tradition and keep churning out or bringing in players to wear it.