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RANKED! The 10 best players to have worn the No.10 shirt

Maradona
(Image credit: Getty)

The best players in the team wear the No.10. But so did William Gallas when he was at Arenal. 

The sulky defender aside, the most influential, creative player on the pitch is the recipient of the number, which in the advent of squad numbers over 11 and the with the impact of global marketing, has taken on even more prestige. 

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These days, the No.10 is as much about status as it is about your role on the pitch. And for these lads, their status has been enshrined in the game as some of the all-time greats...

10. Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil

(Image credit: PA)

The stats don't lie. Mesut Ozil was the most prolific playmaker of a generation, starring in Real Madrid's midfield before coming to the Premier League, where he was inarguably never backed up with enough players of his considerable talent.

The No.10 shirt has been worn by Ozil at most of his clubs as well as at national level for Germany, where he was consistently voted the German player of the year during Die Mannschaft's golden age. A divisive footballer even at his very best - but one that there's no denying really sums up the shirt number. 

9. Juan Roman Riquelme

One of the most mystical footballers of all time, Juan Roman Riquelme was a midfield master who dazzled in three separate spells at Boca Juniors - where he's still idolised perhaps even more than the great Maradona.

A typical 'enganche' in Argentinian football, Riquelme's close control, ball-carrying and eye for a pass was unrivalled at his very best. Talent hits the target while genius hits the target that no one else can see - and it's safe to say that Riquelme was a genius. 

8. Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti

(Image credit: PA)

Arguably the most famous one-club man of all time, Francesco Totti embodied the his shirt number wherever he was used in the frontline. Italy have a habit of producing world-class No.10s - and this guy was just one of many.

And he might just be the best. Totti's influence is endless while his class is eternal. The Roma legend is someone that many an Italian grew up idolising - it's crazy to think how many footballers over there will wear the no.10 simply because he looked so cool while wearing it... 

7. Michel Platini

Kids today know Michel Platini as a disgraced UEFA president - but boy was he one hell of a footballer before his questionable career in politics began.

Platini was an extraordinary playmaker, with incredible passing range, a keen eye for a set piece and was capable of chipping in goals and assists a-plenty. At his peak, no one was half as good: he won the Ballon d'Or three years in a row in the 1980s and he dazzled every time he touched the ball.

6. Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal

(Image credit: PA)

It says a lot that despite Thierry Henry eclipsing Dennis Bergkamp's goal total at Arsenal with utter ease, fans rank the Dutchman on par with their record goalscorer. 

And Thierry himself called Bergkamp the greatest footballer he ever played with. There were few with such grace as the non-flying Dutchman, who bewitched audiences in the '90s and early 2000s with a combination of pinpoint passing and velvet control of the ball. He was one of the defining no.10s of the Premier League's early days. 

5. Ronaldinho

The crown weighs heavier on some people. Ronaldinho always played with a lilting beauty, despite the responsibility of being Barcelona's No.10. 

The Brazilian was arguably the last great entertainer of the game, stunning fans and spellbinding defenders with his sublime samba skills and unbelievable end product - which was often overlooked in favour for his tricks and flicks. Ronnie eventually took the no.10 for Brazil too - and he suited it down to the ground. 

4. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

(Image credit: Getty)

The joke was that Zinedine Zidane wore No.5 for Real Madrid because he was half the player at club level than he was when he was France's no.10. But what a player he was for France.

Two international trophies and a plethora of iconic performances across his international career cemented Zizou's legacy as one of the most idolised playmakers of all time. It was an odd choice of number for club level - but Europe has never had a better No.10. 

3. Diego Maradona

Deadly Diego Maradona was a one-man force of nature; a tornado of a man who could rip through defences, bury from dead balls or find a defence-splitting pass. 

He is the No.10 shirt for an entire generation. The Argentinian even insisted that he was left out of the national squad's barmy numbering system just to wear it (the players numbered themselves by alphabetical order, Ossie Ardiles as no.1). Maradona was one of the first iconic 10s and a yardstick by which all future attackers judged themselves. 

2. Pele

Pele

(Image credit: PA)

Pele was the No.10 in Brazil's 4-2-4 formation. It's perhaps thanks to the otherworldly striker that all that followed wore this number.

The No.10 is intrinsically linked to Pele, who has a reputation as a poacher despite an incredible all-round skillset that would make even modern-day stars blush. The only player to have won three World Cup titles, Edson Arantes do Nascimento only just pips Maradona into second place on account of how he trailblazed with this shirt number. 

1. Lionel Messi

Who else?

Lionel Messi's big rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, wears the No.7. And though Messi may wear the No.30 these days at Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentinian is the reason that so many have chosen to wear the digit in the past decade or so. He's the most insanely talented attacker of a generation, playing like a No.9, No.10 and no.11 all in one.

Ansu Fati - Barcelona's latest No.10 - has a lot to live up to...

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Mark White

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. He is a keen player of the Football Manager series and creates Twitter accounts for his Fantasy Premier League team every year, before losing interest in his team every September.