FFT'S Iconic Shirts: Pele, Ronaldinho and some of the best the game has seen
An icon of the beautiful game, Pele is arguably the most legendary sportsman, if not footballer, to have donned the No.10 kit.
While there will always be debate between Pele and Diego Maradona as the best to ever grace a football pitch, few will argue against Pele being Brazil’s greatest player.
The only player in history to have won the FIFA World Cup three times, Pele often held the world spellbound with his supreme grace and poise, coupled with lightning pace and an unparalleled eye for goal as he turned out for Brazil’s Santos and American side New York Cosmos.
For all his transcendent abilities, Pele would never ply his trade in Europe. Yet with 77 goals in 91 matches for the Selecao, he has long held the record as his nation’s top scorer. While Neymar is quickly in pursuit, Pele’s legacy will last an age.
The term samba football was coined to describe the titillating way the Brazilians approach the sport and one man who represented that to a tee was Ronaldinho.
A serial nutmeg specialist who has more highlight reels of his tricks and flicks on YouTube than some players have goals in their careers, Ronaldinho was a phenom in his days with the likes of PSG, Barcelona and AC Milan.
Not one for trickery alone, however, the maestro had the finishing touch as well, netting more than 100 times in his career.
The playmaker is also extremely popular among football fans – just last year, in a poll conducted by Chevrolet, he was voted Brazil’s best No.10 since Pele.
A two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho produced jaw-dropping overhead kicks and stunning long range strikes aplenty, all while sporting his trademark toothy grin.
And of course, that cheeky no-look that has been attempted by every other flair player in world football since. We will be hard pressed to ever find a player as outrageously skilful as Ronaldinho, who was adored by the game’s true romantics.
In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, eventual champions Brazil boasted a star-studded side that included Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu and Ronaldinho, amongst others. Another name that audiences will remember fondly from that tournament is the enigmatic Rivaldo.
An elegant footballer who never failed to find the limelight, Rivaldo’s left foot was one of the most gifted the footballing world has seen.
A former FIFA World Player of the Year, Rivaldo’s storied career took him to Milan and Barcelona amongst a host of other clubs and he is currently Brazil’s seventh highest goalscorer, having scored 35 goals in 74 matches for his country.
While controversies threaten to diminish Rivaldo’s excellence as one of the finest players to ever don the No.10 kit for Brazil, the attacking midfielder was one of the Selecao’s most important players at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups especially with his knack of delivering in crucial matches.
Ask anyone (except maybe a Turkish fan, after his infamous dive in 2002) and they will insist Rivaldo is one of the best to have played the beautiful game.
Sorry Rivaldo, but this was worth another look, in case anyone hasn't seen it
You know you had a really special career when you are dubbed the “white Pele” and special does not even begin to describe the player Zico was for Brazil.
An attacking midfielder who glided around the field with grace only bettered by seasoned ice skaters on a frosty rink, Zico netted an impressive 52 goals in 71 appearances for Brazil and personified the No.10 shirt better than most players from any generation.
In fact, Zico is the highest-scoring midfielder ever for Brazil.
The breathtaking Brazilian side from the 1982 World Cup is still described as the best not to win the tournament and it was no surprise Zico was the fulcrum of that team.
He was the conductor behind virtually every beautiful move that the Selecao strung together.
The only discountenance in Zico’s career was that he never won the most sought after trophy in world football despite three attempts. Nevertheless, Zico’s status as a colossal genius is very much intact.