Traditionally the No.10 shirt has been reserved for each team’s best offensive player – more specifically the playmaker, creator, dictator, and star attacking player. To wear the No.10 for a top club or country you ought to be blessed with special skill, technique, touch, passing, shooting and set-piece ability – the player that your team-mates and supporters look to for inspiration.
In the past most of the attacking legends of the game have owned the No.10 – the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zico and Zinedine Zidane.
Recently, however, a worrying trend has started to develop. Players who are not fit enough to even look at the No.10 shirt are starting to wear it. The holy No.10 is being degraded.
Goal.com counts down the Top 10 list of players from recent years who should never have been allowed to wear the No.10.
10) John Carew (Aston Villa)
One of the first rules when choosing your No.10 is to eliminate from your shortlist all big target-men centre forwards who are good with their head but clumsy with their feet. The idea of current Aston Villa skyscraper Carew wearing the No.10 is the stuff of nightmares for purists. Whoever next? Peter Crouch? Luca Toni? Emile Heskey?
9) Hugo Viana (Portugal)
In 2002, while still a teenager at Sporting Lisbon, Viana was wanted by virtually every top team in Europe. He then made the rather unwise decision to join the circus at Newcastle United. His career went into steep decline, but he was still surprisingly the Portugal No.10 at World Cup 2006 despite the presence of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Deco. Viana made just two substitute appearances, missing a penalty in the quarter final shootout win over England.
8) Oliver Neuville (Germany)
You know that times are hard in modern football when a 35-year-old playing in the second tier of German football is chosen as the recipient of the No.10. This is what happened to Neuville at Euro 2008, as he kept the same number he had owned at the 2006 World Cup. How greats such as Gunter Netzer, Wolfgang Overath and Lothar Matthaus must be shaking their heads and wondering what has happened to their country.
7) Jose Antonio Reyes (Spain)
Reyes never fulfilled the promise he showed as a youngster at Sevilla, and by 2006 it was clear that he had been somewhat overhyped. That summer, though, he was given the No.10 by Spain for the World Cup in Germany. A strange decision when you consider that not only is Reyes a winger, but that La Furia Roja possessed an abundance of creative talent such as Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Raul, David Villa and Fernando Torres. Reyes barely featured in the tournament, meaning the world hardly saw the Spain No.10.
6) Ruud Van Nistelrooy (The Netherlands)
One of the great goalscorers of the last decade, but Van Nistelrooy is a No.9. He is a penalty box hitman, who scores most of his goals inside the six-yard box. You wouldn’t see David Trezeguet or Pippo Inzaghi with the No.10, and the Horseman falls into the same category. Van Nistelrooy was given the No.10 by his nation for Euro 2004, but Clarence Seedorf, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and even Arjen Robben were all more suitable.
5) Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid)
Diarra is a brilliant defensive midfielder, who is probably already world class. But he is a defensive midfielder, and No.10’s are supposed to be artists not artisans. This is all the more peculiar when you consider that the Blancos also have Kaka, Raul, Guti and Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad.
4) Nicola Berti (Italy)
The Azzurri were hot favourites going into the 1990 World Cup in their own country, but were eventually eliminated in the semi-final on penalties by Argentina through a mixture of bad luck, bad politics, and a nervous-wreck of a coach in Azeglio Vicini. Perhaps if Italy could have called upon the special powers of their ‘real’ No.10s in Roberto Baggio, Giuseppe Giannini or Roberto Donadoni - and not a midfield runner-bean who spent his whole career annoying Italy fans, and used up his half-time breaks combing his side-parting into place while smiling into the mirror - things could have been different.
3) Sidney Govou (France)
This should not be a surprise because when Raymond Domenech is your coach, always expect the inexplicable. Euro 2008 proved to be an absolute disaster for Domenech, who left the likes of David Trezeguet and Sebastien Frey at home, made outrageous squad and team selections, saw his side knocked out in the first round with just one point, and was left hanging by his girlfriend after proposing to her live on TV. The most embarrassing moment, though, was handing Govou the No.10.
"Sid, are you twisting my arm or has some
lunatic given you the No.10 shirt?"
2) Andriy Voronin (Liverpool)
Liverpool have become a laughing stock for the number of players in their squad who are ridiculed by fans and the press. David N’Gog, Lucas, Andrea Dossena and - to complete the Marx Brothers - Andriy Voronin. In two spells at Anfield, the Ukrainian has scored just six goals in over 30 games. Nevertheless, transfer genius Rafael Benitez believed he was worth the great No.10. Oh Rafa - you so crazy!
1) William Gallas (Arsenal)
In first place it could only be Arsenal defender William Gallas, who was handed the No.10 for the Gunners following the retirement of the legendary Dennis Bergkamp in 2006. During his prime Gallas was a top-class defender, but a centre back wearing the No.10 is like United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown living at No.10 – it should never happen, and the sooner change takes place the better for all of us. Please, dear God!
"Cesc, you can have my gloves but not my No.10."
What are your views on this topic? Who do you think was the worst choice for No.10? Any other suggestions not on this list? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think...
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com