Number 10 In Soccer: Why It’s So Special

There are a lot of well-respected numbers in soccer, but #10 might be the best of the best. When numbers started to make appearances in the game, it seems like most teams put their best player in that number.

Why is the number 10 so special? We break down the history of #10 in soccer, some of the best players to ever wear the number, and why there is a bit of mystique around it in general.

The Impact of Early Number Assignments

When soccer teams first started putting numbers on the back of their player’s jerseys, everyone was designated a number based on their position.

That means that the #1 jersey was given to goalkeepers, and they went in order all the way to forwards wearing #10 and #11. With many formations, the #10 was the up top player who was in charge of many different offensive aspects. Essentially, this player is a star.

Teams generally put their best player on offense at this position, and these are the players who get the headlines for all they do (good and bad). They usually score a lot of goals, and they are involved in a lot of key plays. By default, best players didn’t originally pick the #10 jersey, but fans started to see the number worn frequently by headline athletes.

All-Time Greats Wearing The Number #10

  • Pele
  • Diego Maradona

Numbers were still relatively new when all-time greats like Pele and Maradona started wearing #10 for their club teams as well as their international sides.

Not much was made of this trend originally, but a new wave of fans were growing up wearing #10 jerseys to show support. It makes sense that a lot of players wanted to wear #10 on their own team, and it started to go to the best players in that regard.

Teams have slowly moved away from not using the traditional number system when it comes to soccer, giving players a little bit more freedom overall. However, it also makes the #10 a lot more competitive, because everyone wants to be like those greats in the sport’s history.

Some teams go as far as retiring the number so that no one else can use it. This is only going to really happen if a true legendary player comes through.

Internationally, #10 is usually reserved for a truly special talent on the roster. Countries will take giving out jerseys very seriously so that they don’t frustrate the masses. There can be a lot of people frustrated with the wrong player getting a jersey that many feel should go to someone else.

Modern Legends Wearing #10

  • Lionel Messi
  • Neymar
  • Zinedine Zidane
  • Kaka
  • Ronaldinho
  • Wayne Rooney

The #10 in today’s world is a big responsibility for any player putting the jersey on. It’s usually reserved for players with big expectations, and leaders of the squad.

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane, and Wayne Rooney are all recent legends who wore the jersey. Many of these athletes fill the role as the star on the team, while there have been other instances where people have not been able to live up to expectations after getting assigned the number.

It is true that many players have thrived in the role of wearing #10, while others have found it to be a little bit too much of a daunting task. Too many have worried that they won’t be able to live up to expectations.

It’s definitely a challenge that can frustrate a lot of people if they don’t meet expectations, but it can show how players can handle the spotlight. Teams almost use #10 as a bit of a test for players they are unsure about.

Is #10 Considered Lucky?

Traditionally speaking, the #10 is not considered as lucky as numbers such as 1, 3, 7, or 11. However, there will always be people who consider number 10 to be one of their lucky numbers.

Maybe it is connected to their birthday in some way, or it plays a part in their family’s history. Each player has a unique feeling towards certain numbers, a number 10 has proven to be lucky for a few out there in the past.

Are Other Athletes Influenced by Soccer Players Wearing #10?

The #10 is considered such a glorified number in soccer that it has actually made a little bit of an impact on other sports. There have been players who grew up playing and watching soccer, but ultimately made a move to a different sport, and they say that they wear number 10 for that reason.

This most commonly shows up in basketball, especially in Europe. Some teams even adopt a similar way of thinking that #10 goes to the star player on the roster.

Are #10 Players Captains?

A trend that has been going on for a while is making #10 players one of the captains on the team. While it’s obviously not a requirement, it is true that sometimes they use the #10 as a way to distinguish a player who is one of the leaders of the squad.

It makes sense in a lot of ways that these players are considered pretty good and therefore leaders, and it goes beyond just playing on the pitch.

For teams that give the number 10 to anyone who is captain-worthy, that can sometimes make it a little tricky for fans to differentiate on the pitch. For example, seeing a #10 on defense might seem a little weird to traditionalists, but it’s part of the game evolving to what it is today.

The Final Word on the Mystique of #10 In Soccer

A lot of numbers are special in soccer, but the #10 is considered the most sacred of them all. Not only does it have a ton of history, but it has even slipped into other sports.

While some pros might want to make their own legacy and go with a different number these days, there will always be a special spot for #10. Chances are, every team has considered a lot of different factors before giving that number out to just any player.


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Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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