For Omerou, a 23-year-old at the relative beginning of his career, that is an impressive number to hold for one so young.
For perspective, that is around half the appearances made by some former Nigeria defending greats. The legendary Stephen Keshi made 64 appearances, Ben Iroha made 50. Uche Okechukwu recorded 46 caps, while Celestine Babayaro made just 27 appearances.
Despite the impressive number, though, there remains the nagging suspicion that Omeruo has not quite settled at either international or club level.
He made his international debut at 19, helping the Super Eagles win their third Africa Cup of Nations in 2013. Since then, he has been a regular member of the team without exactly stamping his authority as a defensive bulwark, largely due to injuries.
At club level, Omeruo has been shipped from club to club by Chelsea since joining them in 2012 from Standard Liege, and could be on the move this pre-season again.
So far, he has been loaned out to ADO Den Haag in Holland, Middlesbrough in the Championship, and Turkish sides Kasimpasa and Alanyaspor. He’s never appeared for his parent club’s first team.
To his credit, he has shown up brilliantly everywhere he has been loaned, making regular appearances for each of the clubs and earning wonderful reviews, for both his ability and his character.
Kasimpasa even had an option to buy him, but decided to pass when they could not find the money to meet Chelsea’s valuation.
Each pre-season, Omeruo has returned to Chelsea to mark time before being sent out again on loan, and this time appears to be no different.
Last weekend, he captained a team of loanees and development squad players to a 1-1 draw in a kick-about with Crawley Town, while the main team scrimmaged with Fulham.
It was a clear indication that the Nigeria defender would be on his way out on loan again.
This follows a disappointing summer with Nigeria where he was left to warm the bench in favor of 20-year-old Chidozie Awaziem as Nigeria lost 0-2 at home to South Africa.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr justified the decision, according to a source close to the team, by saying Omeruo’s confidence would be shot from his previous experience with the South African strikers in 2014. As dubious as the argument sounded, it was still a poor reflection on Omeruo’s mental strength.
At 23, Omeruo should be on the verge of his most productive years as a footballer. Being loaned from club to club does not help that development and consistency.
It doesn’t do him much good at international level either. He has to put his imprint on that Super Eagles defense. At 6ft2″, he has the build to be an imposing centreback, and is nimble enough to operate as a quick central defender or a decent full back.
His contract with Chelsea is up in 2019. Omeruo has to either find a way to establish himself at his parent club, or push for a permanent move elsewhere. His career will be better for it.