5 Number 10’s who never were

5 Number 10’s who never were

By TomTom – Your SatNav around Football


Last week’s blog was focused on’ 5 number 10’s who should never have been’ and as promised here are’ 5 number 10’s who for some reason never were’

Number 10 football shirtAs the Spanish stuttered into gear as Euro 2012 progressed and then produced a matador of a performance to trounce Italy in the final, much of the sensible debate was focused on Del Bosque’s bold decision to operate for the most part without an out and out striker. The 4-6-0 or the 4-3-3 was a system which alienated the traditional no.9. Fernando Torres, who although conversely picked up the golden boot award, was at best a bit part player, Negredo was used for 45 minutes and then swiftly removed from the action and the highly regarded Llorente didn’t kick a ball in anger.

What has not been commented on is that Spain didn’t play with a traditional number 10 either. The man who adorned the shirt was Cesc Fabregas who had a solid tournament. An important equaliser against the Italians in the opening group game was followed by a strike in the rout against Ireland and he was then the provider for David Silva’s early goal in the final. He is not however, a number 10 in the truest sense. Although he has played further forward for Barcelona over the past season and then subsequently for Spain throughout Euro 2012, Fabregas is still primarily a central midfielder. He is not a maverick number 10. His passing ability is suited to the Spanish style and his ability to receive the ball with his back to goal and bring others into play is something he is added to his game, however, he does not comfortably fall into the same category as the players who have made his shirt number so exalted.

Yet he was not so out of place that he fell into our list of the ‘5 most unjustifiable number 10’s’. That ‘honour’ fell to Messrs Gallas, Barry, Deane, Johnson and Diarra.

Today’s blog is focused on the ‘5 best number 10’s who never were’, men for all their flair, creativity and ingenuity were never assigned the shirt that suits those attributes best.

1) Eric Cantona – Manchester United

Arrogant, self-destructive, brilliant, iconic. Cantona was the consummate number 10. A man as creative on the pitch as he was cuckoo off, was one of the finest deep lying forwards to grace Old Trafford and indeed the Premiership. The collar turned up look only truly suits a number 10 shirt and for all of Ferguson’s accolades, he missed a trick here. Whilst the no.7 shirt holds a special significance at Old Trafford, Cantona should have seen the bigger picture and demanded what was rightfully his. Move over Mark Hughes.

2) Matt Le Tissier – Southampton

Consistently overlooked at international level, he was also taken le Tiss out of at his one and only club. Never the bearer of the shirt most suited to his playing style, Le Tissier conjured up some of the most memorable pieces of individual brilliance the Premiership has been witness to. With levels of flair and ability unnatural to an English player, one can only wonder how many caps he would have won if he was, say Spanish? With so much standing at a relatively small club, you can only imagine that he chose the no.7 shirt himself, a disappointing decision from a man of that class. Southampton no. 10s Neil Maddison and Egil Ostenstad were among the beneficiaries of his selflessness. Need I say more.

3) Gianfranco Zola – Chelsea

This little genius was capable of some of the most outrageous pieces of skill and trickery imaginable. The heel flick volley against Norwich in the F.A cup was a classic goal and typical of Zola’s flair. So good, he has almost made the no.25 shirt iconic in its own right, Zola had all the grace and poise of a true no.10. That man Mark Hughes was in the way again.

4) Zinedine Zidane – Juventus & Real Madrid

One of the most iconic number 10’s at international level, Zidane was for some reason never assigned the shirt during either of his stints at superpower clubs . Having carried France to the 98’ world cup and Euro 2000 victories with 10 on his back, Zidane was assigned the irrelevant no.21 for Juventus and then subsequently the inexcusable no.5 at Madrid. A centre half’s number on the back of one of the greatest players that ever lived. He should have headbutted the manager.

5) Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish’s recent nostalgic appointment as returning Liverpool manager may not have been as successful as everyone at Anfield at hoped. However, one thing that is not in question is his performances for the club as a player. With buckets of flair, creativity and an eye for a goal, Dalglish was up there with the best number 10’s of his generation.

When will managers realise once and for all that the no.7 is for right midfielders, squad numbers are for squad players and that true legends and true number 10’s need to be distinguished in the correct way?

If Del Bosque has it his way, the only number 10 in football will be the amount of midfielders on the pitch in the Spanish national team.

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About TomTom
“Having studied English at university and always been a keen footballer and fan, combining the two has always appealed to me.” - Tom Lytton-Dickie. -"I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket." Tom Allnutt

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