Ever since numbers were intorduced on football jerseys in 1928 in a match between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal, it has been a convention to give No 10 to the striker, often the best player on the team.
The numbers were assigned strictly by field position with the goalkeeper getting 1 and the strikers getting 9, 10 and 11.
The jersey number 10 has over the years become associated with the best player of the team, with the opponents devicing special strategies to keep the "No 10" in check.
A number 10 need not necessarily be the most diligent player of the team, but he is the most creative one. Also, the charisma they display is not restricted to on the field. Players like Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Baggio, Johan Cruyff and Luis Figo have all been dashing both on and off the field.
Over the years, a number of legends have donned the jersey and lived up to its billing, even furthered the iconic status of the jersey. Pele and Maradona are probably history's best examples. Today, Rooney, Messi and many others wear this jersey with pride, knowing that they have struck fear into their opponents just by pulling that shirt over their head.
With so much of club football being played, a lot of sheen has shifted from this ‘mythical’ jersey to others. Or has it?
Here is a look at some of the most exciting players who will be donning the Jersey Number 10 in Brazil:
England have become the butt of all jokes thanks to their lacklustre performances in the previous few editions of the World Cup. Rooney became the youngest player to represent England in 2003 at the age of 17. He has played for England 91 times and scored 39 goals. What will be interesting to see is if Rooney can prove Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes wrong, who opined that Rooney was past his prime. The Liverpudlian will have to find the back of the net on a regular basis, if England are to harbour any hopes of lifting the trophy.
Eden Hazard :
Eden Hazard has been displaying his brilliance in the English Premier League (for Chelsea) for the past few seasons. He’s one of the main reasons behind Belgium qualifying in the World Cup this year. Belgium are being touted as the dark horses by many a experts, and this mid-fielder will be heading the pack. He has made 44 appearances for his national side and scored 6 goals in these outings. After a long wait of 12 years, Belgium have managed to qualify and how far they manage to go will depend hugely on Hazard’s offensive success.
Modric was a part of the Real Madrid squad that won the UEFA Champions league this season. He was instrumental in the win and has been in excellent form this season. Croatia will be kick starting their campaign against Brazil and will face tough challenges from Mexico and Cameroon in the group stages. Modric will have to come to the party for Croatia to not only advance past the group stage, but be in the reckoning for the Cup too.
Getting the famed jersey in a team which boasts of the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa is a huge achievement. It speaks a lot about the humongous expectations his team has from him. Fabregas was a part of the 2010 World Cup squad which went on to lift the cup. He was also a member of the Euro championshiop teams of the last two editions (2008 and 2012). He currently ranks eigth in the teams in terms of international caps (88) and is tied sixth in goals scored (13). He is one of the many reasons why Spain are favourites to be crowned World Champions this time too.
Neymar is just 22-years-old, and has already racked up 48 caps and 31 goals. He has a number of laurels to his name - an Olympic silver medal (2012), a Fifa Confederations Cup title (2013), a Fifa Club World Cup Bronze Ball (2011), Confederations Cup Bronze Shoe and Golden Ball (2013) and is a two-time South American Footballer of the Year (2011 and 2012). If hosts Brazil are expected to write off the curse of Maracana and win at home, what better way than to neutralise the curse with the magic of Jersey number 10.
He is unanimously regarded as the best footballer of the modern era. Many compare him with Maradona, while many believe that he’s better than Maradona. Messi will be the most prolific and most looked-forward to player donning the number 10 Jersey in World Cup 2014. He has scored 38 goals in the 86 matches that he’s represented Argentina. Argentina last/previously won a World Cup in 1986, where Maradona provided many great goals (including the controversial ‘Hand of God’ in the final). Messi will have to display similar brilliance and live up to the legend of the Jersey for Argentina to repeat that feat.
An entire list of the players who will be donning the jersey number 10 in FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil :