The 10 Greatest Number 10 footballers of All Time (at the moment)
The Number 10 Jersey is currently the new number 9.
It was only a few years ago when people were raving about players who wore the number 9 on their shirt. For example, Alan Shearer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Sir Bobby Charlton CBE, Fernando Torres, Ian Rush and Ronaldo (the non-metrosexual one: Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima).
At the moment, we have a new generation of famous number tens: Kaka, Robinho, Messi, Fabregas, Rooney and Sergio 'Kun' Aguero all ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As a preview, I have decided to go through some famous number 10s who have achieved legendary status for club and country.
What you will need to realise during this slides how is that I'm trying to eliminate a popular misconception regarding so-called "great players."
Many football fans tend to measure greatness through goals alone and so they do not appreciate other aspects of playing football, such as passing and tackling.
It is an inconvenient truth that defenders are rarely assigned the number 10 shirt in their squad because it usually goes from goalkeeper to striker using numbers 1-11, hence having defenders wear single-figure numbers on their shirt.
Having said that, a lot of defenders nowadays wear numbers higher than 10, sometimes exceeding the number 20. More surprisingly, former French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez wore number 16 on his shirt for the French National Team. Still, I could only really find strikers and wingers who wore the number 10 on their shirts. Just make a note in your heads for the future that a great player should be noted for what his position is rather than how many goals he scores.
Warning: This slide show may contain a disproportionate number of Brazilians, Spaniards and Argentinians.
To anybody editing this, I hope you like coffee.
#10 - William Gallas
I think defenders deserve more praise for what they do so I'm putting a beacon of hope for defenders in here by placing Arsenal defender William Gallas at number 10. Call it tokenism, but it's just how I feel about defenders being constantly overlooked simply because they don't score many goals.
The former Arsenal Captain won his first title at 19 years old with SM Caen. Then at Chelsea, he contributed efforts towards two consecutive Premier League title wins (04/05 and 05/06).
Gallas has also been known to score from a corner or two. Demonstrating great positional sense, he can creep into the penalty box unmarked and wait by the back post to either head the ball or tap it in for a rather easy, but well-planned goal. Almost a tenth of his appearances have featured him scoring.
#9 - Sir Geoff Hurst MBE
Sir Geoff Hurst, another product of West Ham's frequently-raided youth academy (for obvious reasons), was not the first-choice striker for England in their 1966 World Cup campaign. Even so, five months into his international career and with only eight previous caps for England leading up to the final, he was placed into the line-up for the Final against West Germany.
In this match he became the first and ONLY player to score a hat-trick of goals in a World Cup Final (even if it was under somewhat controversial circumstances). If this doesn't convince you that he deserves a place in this list, I'll add that not even Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane or Ronaldo [Luis Nazario de Lima] have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup Final, despite being more prolific goalscorers.
#8 - Francesco Totti [Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI]
One Serie A title (2001), a World Cup (2006), two Coppas Italias (2007 and 2008) and a whopping 20 individual honours including five "Italian Footballer of the Year" awards, this one-club man has made a great name for himself throughout Italy. He's known amongst A.S. Roma fans as "The Gladiator," standing at 5'11" and consistently gaining victory over defenders and goalkeepers alike.
Francesco Totti is an all-around star player. His versatility shines through whether placed upfront or in the attacking midfield role. He can take penalties, curl free kicks, volley shots from corners (sorry for stealing your thunder there Arjen Robben) and his signature trait is chipping shots over the heads of many goalkeepers from various distances. Totti is also A.S. Roma's all-time top goalscorer and I'm thinking that his goal tally wouldn't be as high without his brilliant chip-shot technique.
To ice this cake of a player, he has two degrees of Italian knighthood to his name.
#7 - Glenn Hoddle
As a Tottenham Hotspur fan, how can I not!?
To be fair, I've put an Arsenal player in for the purposes of neutrality. Besides, Hoddle does deserve to be hailed as a legendary number ten shirt-wearer. I put him here because Luka Modric wears the number 14 shirt (the same number as the great Johan Cruijff - strangely enough).
"Hod was God" as most lifelong Spurs fans would profess to you. His control of the ball appeared to many as though it was glued to his foot. One shining example of his brilliant control ocurred in one of his later games in a Spurs shirt against Oxford United (recently promoted to League Two from the Conference National in case you were interested in where they've been for the last 23 years).
Hoddle started a solo run from the halfway line. With one poke of the ball, he had penetrated three of the four Oxford defenders. Hod ran straight through and was then one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Hoddle simply dummied the goalkeeper and tapped the ball in.
The most godly thing about Hoddle was his powerful strikes. This attacking midfelder didn't have as many goals to his name as Johan Cruijff, BUT quality exceeded quantity in this instance. Hoddle didn't tend to shy away from a speculative strike. This speculation turned to concrete truth when he struck a volley since most of them went thundering into the back of the net with god-like force.
Additionally, Glenn Hoddle had the famous Johan Cruijff bowing to him in October 1983 after Spurs UEFA Cup match with Feyenoord (featuring Cruijff) where the final score was 6-2 on aggregate. The Dutch icon personally handed his own shirt over to Hoddle in the Spurs dressing room out of respect for his high-quality performances in both legs of the tie.
#6 - Ronaldinho
Ok, Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira) wouldn't get into my top-ten lookers. He has been likened to a dentally-challenged horse (sorry, but look at the teeth when he smiles). Fortunately, this isn't a top-ten lookers slide-show, so we're good to go.
Ronaldinho has dipped a little in his performances as of late, but nobody would dare to forget what he is capable of. Another prolific skills scientist, Ronaldinho patented his own tricks like Zidane. One of these was a passing trick in which he would turn his head away while passing in the opposite direction. As long as his teammates knew what he was up to, the passes were successful. If they didn't, he'd look a bit silly, so he makes sure they're all on his wavelength.
Another notable move he perfected was a dribbling trick where he would scoop the ball up a little bit with one foot, push his foot out to one side but then slide it over to the other side.
Ronaldinho could be considered as the second coming of Pele.
Scrumptious dribbling ability and wonderfully awesome skills. No defenders dared to stick a leg out to challenge him for fear of facing his free-kicks.He executed his free-kicks with precision, the resultant goal both a normality and mere formality. The "postage stamp" was constantly there in all four corners of the net for Ronaldinho to choose from.
He was named in the FIFPro World XI three times in a row and has raked in honours for his teams too—A double and a treble consecutively with Barcelona (the treble being La Liga, the Super Copa de España and the UEFA Champions' League in 2006).
Prior to that, Ronaldinho won the 2002 FIFA World Cup with his native Brazil. One memorable moment from the Cup ocurring he launched a 35-yard free kick over the head of David Seaman (England Goalkeeper at the time) and into the net during Brazil's 2-1 Quarter-Final win over England.
#5 - Roberto Baggio
When he was very young—a child in fact—Roberto Baggio was already known to have star potential. While playing for his local youth club, he scored a staggering six goals in one game. A scout referred him to Vicenza Calcio FC and his career launched from there.
Along with his long ponytail (known as Il Divin Codino, The Divine Ponytail), he was renowned for his wonderful darting runs, almost always capped off with clean goals. He has won many individual honours, been a Serie A title winner with both Juventus and AC Milan one year after another. That goes to show what an influential player Baggio was while at his peak.
However, he caused a stir when transferring from Fiorentina (the club he 'loves') to rivals Juventus. The stir was in the style of a Kenwood mixer on full whack. Remember, this is Italy, Home of the Ultras. Riots broke out, injuring 50 people in total. Still, he always claimed to be purple inside.
Someone needs a blood transfusion, and fast!
#4 - Diego Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona is most certainly a bag of tricks and has had a very paradoxical career. He's been both a hero and a villain.
Maradona has shared a FIFA Player of the Century award with Pele and for good reason. His ultimate concoction of power, pace and skill earnt him 311 goals in 589 appearances which amounted to such honours as a Primera Division title with Boca Juniors, a double triumph with Napoli (Serie A and a Coppa Italia) and the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Everyone who ever watched him play chose not to stop until the ball left his feet. Maradona had a hobby of going it alone. Most of his runs produced a goal, hence his large goal-to-game ratio. These solo efforts consisted of close control and tenacity which left defenders in dumbfounded awe.
In 1986's World Cup, England became a notable victim of Maradona's genius (the second goal). The Argentine outfoxed Peter Beardsley, Steve Hodge, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, and Terry Fenwick in that order and slid the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton to cap off the Goal of the Century.
The press would consider him a villain for shooting an air rifle at them after they had hounded him for years, or being tested positive for cocaine use. But there's a more obvious reason for which he can be considered a villian, particularly by the English.
If we rewind once more to the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final tie against England, part one of England's defeat to the lone Maradona was a highly controversial goal. It was the 'Hand of God' incident, or—for any Argentinians reading this—La Mano de Dios'. An England player lashed at the ball, leaving it to rise into the air and drop. Maradona challenged goalkeeper Peter Shilton for the ball, but used his arm to knock the it into the net. The referee gave the goal as it appeared to have been headed.
English frustration was further fuelled by the fact that both countries were locked in conflict at the time (Falklands War) and Argentina went on to win the World Cup that year. Something tells me that Maradona has never and will never be forgiven by England for that goal. It's not the only time Maradona has used his arm to score let me tell you.
I was considering putting Maradona at number two or even at the top spot in my slide-show instead of Pele, but Maradona was very unapologetic for the goal and intended to do it, thinking that half of the job was done by God (hence the name) and God had wanted him to do that.
#3 - Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane (sometimes known as Zizou) has the hairstyle of a monk (a conveniently placed bald patch in the middle of his head), but didn't lead the life of one (nor the religion as he is in fact a Muslim). He is noted as one of the greatest players of all time (duh!) but also perhaps one of the most short-tempered players of all time, as we'll chew over a bit later.
ZZ never sent anyone to ZZZzzzzzzz with his magical touches. He was a skills scientist who knew the physics of a moving football. With this knowledge, Zidane could control the ball confidently and put it wherever he wanted, using backheels, turns and plucking flying balls from the air.
This Frenchman with finesse patented his own skill, the 'Zidane Spin'. This move was a trick involving both feet: Zidane would place the sole of one foot (usually his preferred foot) on top of the ball first, drag it back while turning around, drag it further back with his other foot and then tap it forward with his preferred foot.
ZZ's honours include a World Cup (1998) and a European cup (Euro 2000). It is not very common for players to win both a World Cup and a European Cup for his country. He is also an Officer of the Légion d'honneur (awarded in 2009).
Now for the "temper" bit. Maybe I'm a bit quick to say that as it's simply picking one thing he's lost his rag over and stereotyping him as aggressive, but it might have been slightly over the top. It was his memorable early exit from the 2006 World Cup Final (a possible incentive, as it was to be the final match of his career, so he couldn't exactly be suspended for it).
It was the night of the Final, and all through the house... sorry... mixing up stories here...
It was the night of the Final. It was a repeat of the Euro 2000 Final between France and Italy. It was 1-1 after normal time and that meant extra time. An extra half-hour for the passionate, dedicated fans to enjoy the wonderful football on offer.
Zidane walked past Italian defender Marco Materazzi who uttered something so disgusting and so insulting to Zidane that nobody actually knows what he said. Some say Materazzi made a crack about Zidane's mother. Others claim Materazzi stereotyped Zidane's Muslim faith and called him a terrorist. Anyway, Zidane walked round to face Materazzi directly and, to the shock of the millions of people watching around the world, headbutted him right in the sternum.
Zidane was sent off immediately.
If I had to take a scientific angle on this incident (with Zidane being a football scientist and all), I would say that Zidane's head was aerodynamically prepared for headbutting since his head was fully shaven for the occasion.
#2 - Lionel Messi
Lionel Andres Messi is tipped by Diego Maradona as his successor. The F.C. Barcelona talisman's playing style evokes the past brilliance of Diego Maradona.
But strangely enough, I've found a Hand of God act from Messi's past too.
Check the following video about eight seconds in:
Talk about extended family...
Apart from that, Messi—like Maradona—is one of the most skilled players you'll ever see. He is a constant thorn in the side of any team's defence. As far as I'm concerned, he hasn't put a foot wrong in terms of his performances. Every match, he can rip through defences with ease and nobody can touch him.
In the Champions' League for example, Messi stole the show in the second leg of the Quarter Final against Arsenal. The Argentine prodigy netted all four of the goals in a 4-1 schooling to make it 6-3 on aggregate.
Messi quickly earnt star status and by the age of 21 this has been represented by a plethora of honours already earnt. Quite a few are trebles. He was an integral part of Barcelona's 2009 treble triumph of La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions' League; he has earnt treble awards as an individual player too.
Messi has thrice been named:
- Best Ibero-American player in La Liga
- FIFPro World Young Player of the Year
- World Young Soccer Player of the Year
- In the FIFPro World XI
Also, he has been named Argentinian Player of the Year FOUR times.
I think the awards Messi's earnt at such a young age speak volumes: He's a legend already, and there's still more of him left to see.
#1 - Edison Arantes do Nascimento KBE
I bet when you looked at the name on this slide, your eyes bulged and you said to yourself, "WHO!?" Well that is the birth name of the legendary Pelé.
An obvious choice I grant you. However, I must point out that Maradona COULD HAVE ended up at number one instead, but Pelé's entire career was untarnished by controversial issues such as the Hand of God (conveniently used in the thick of the Falklands War), or ''worse''—cocaine abuse.
It is pretty much a universal truth that Pelé is, and will long remain, the greatest football player of all time—but we'll just see how Messi does, shall we?
Pelé is quite possibly the only player to score more goals than the number of games in the league. At Santos alone, he accumulated a whopping 474 goals in 438 appearances. He had a two year stint at the New York Cosmos but with a relatively average 37 goals in 64 appearances, you could tell that his heart wasn't in it like it was at his one true club, Santos.
Pelé dribbled the ball like there were no opponents to worry about at all. Nobody stuck a leg out to challenge him and even when they did, Pelé had this tenacious streak in him that always wanted the ball back and quickly took possession again. Close control of the ball and quick bursts of speed got him through just about every team he faced, and for a five and a half foot midget he had one hell of a strike on him!
Pelé could write a novel about the many honours he has received over the course of his career. His most notable honours are TEN Campeonato Paulistas (five of them won consecutively, which could be used as an indication of when Pelé peaked), two consecutive Copas Libertadores and THREE FIFA World Cups for Brazil.
Pelé also received an honorary British knighthood in 1997. He is a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).
I guess you could say great things come in small packages, apart from letterbombs—they're not so great.