No 10 is, put simply, the most revered shirt number in football, and carries an aura like no other. It’s the number of a team’s most creative, talented player. It was the favoured shirt of Ferenc Puskas, Eusebio, Pele, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.
It’s a number that has prompted books to be written solely about its mystique, a number which has prompted laments about its declining importance in the modern game. If you turn up at a match and don’t know any of the players, it’s a decent bet that the No 10 for either side will be worth keeping an eye on.
None of this would have been considered vaguely plausible back in the inter-war years when shirt numbering was introduced — it was simply a way for referees and spectators to identify players. Yet somehow, nearly a century on, the No 10 carries enormous importance on every continent.
When considering the No 10, though, you instinctively think of South America and, in particular, of Argentina. Nowhere else is the No 10 quite so fetishised and storied, which is the result of various factors.
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