Think of the Number 10 jersey and the images that come to mind are of footballers such as Pele, Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Wayne Rooney, Robinho, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Cesc Fabregas.
In football, the most creative player in the team gets to wear the No. 10 jersey and it is the most cherished possession, though some countries also hold No. 7, 9 and 11 in high esteem.
Quite unlike football, most hockey players are not choosy about jersey numbers, though some do have superstitions.
In Australia, the No. 1 jersey is reserved for the captain, as he is their best player — Jamie Dwyer is sporting that number in the FIH Hockey World Cup here.
Though players from 10 of the 12 teams here are sporting the No. 10 jersey — England and Australia have altogether discarded that number — it does not evoke the same passion in hockey. This is surprising because some of them come from countries with rich football tradition.
“It’s just a coincidence that I wear the No. 10 jersey,” said New Zealand defender Ryan Archibald.
“I have been wearing (it) for 9-10 years. I got this number when former Black Sticks captain Jamie Smith retired in 1998. There was no special reason for picking No. 10,” said Archibald.
Ditto for South Korea’s No. 10, Hyo Sik You. “I have been wearing it for years,” he said.
Dutch scoring machine, Taeke Taekema, is aware of its importance because of his job with a sports management company that deals with footballers. Taekema wore No. 24 for years, before choosing No. 10 because of its “special” significance for Netherlands hockey. “Two of our legendary players, Stephan Veen and Ties Kruize, who is our manager in this World Cup, wore it and, therefore, it is special for me,” said Taekema, the top scorer at the 2006 World Cup.
In the Delhi edition of the World Cup, the No. 10 club includes Deepak Thakur (India), Lloyd Norris-Jones (South Africa), Zeeshan Ashraf (Pakistan), Eduard Tabau (Spain), Wayne Fernandes (Canada), Jan-Marco Montag (Germany) and Enrique Matais Paredes.
Some of them, like Taekema, Archibald and Montag have done well while others like Thakur, Ashraf, Tabau and Paredes have failed to live up to their reputation — leave alone the reputation of the No. 10 jersey.