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Over the years the world has seen the greatest players in the number 10 role.

Pele and Diego Maradona can only be described as the most technically gifted players to grace the pitch. A lot of previous No.10 lists have included players such as George Best and Johan Cruyff. I would like to point out that I consider these players as wingers and this is precisely why Cristiano Ronaldo won’t feature in this list.

Diego MaradonaMy definition of a No.10 is a player that plays in the hole behind a target man or poacher and can also be referred to as a support striker.

The No.10 is not necessarily a prolific goalscorer, more the catalyst to breakdown stubborn defences with a moment of creative genius.

Often the No.10 is the best player in a team and can pick a pass that no one else can. The goals that No.10′s score are not necessarily frequent as mentioned previously but they are usually memorable, spectacular and often game changing.

Due to their technical ability they are often the free kick takers of the team also. So here’s our top 10..

10. Kaka

Kaka Ricardo Izecson dos Santos LeiteKaka is a 2002 World Cup winner and has obtained the most prestigious individual award the Ballon d’Or in 2007. That very same year he won the Champions League with AC Milan. Kaka has all the credentials to be one of the best players in this list and that is the reason why he was the third most expensive transfer in football history, reaching an astronomical fee of £56 million, so where did it all go wrong? A knee operation after the 2010 World Cup caused Kaka to be out for 4 months. During these months Jose Mourinho had built a team without Kaka and he hasn’t really planned on including him since.

Kaka has struggled to become a first team regular at the Galacticos and will always be in the shadow of Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo. Kaka would flourish elsewhere in a team where he is the main man but his wages are a huge obstacle for any potential suitor. Should Kaka ever return to the form he was in around 2007 then the world would be in for a huge treat.

9. Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco ZolaZola earns his place on this list as being one of the first exciting foreign exports to arrive in the Premiership, he was a wizard with the ball.

While Chelsea were not quite the force they are now back in the Zola years they still picked up silverware and it was largely down to this man.

In 1998, Zola, much to his frustration couldn’t start in the Cup Winners Cup final against Stuttgart due to injury, he did however come on as a second half substitute and score the winning goal after 30 seconds with his second touch of the ball. Zola was instrumental in defining the Premiership during its early years. He learnt from the best in his early years at Napoli as he had Maradona as his mentor so he was always going to be a unique talent. Such was Zola’s influence at Chelsea his famous number 25 shirt has since been retired.

8. Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero

Del Piero enjoyed a very successful 19 years at Juventus and is possibly the most decorated of the Italian trequartistas that feature on this list. He won six Serie A titles, a Champions League, a World Cup and he was also part of the Italian team that finished as runners up in the European Championships. Del Piero was one of the loyal players that remained with Juventus when they were relegated after the match fixing scandal in 2006 and he will always be a fans favourite for that reason.

His playing style is more varied than a lot of the No.10′s in the list he often had to make room for other players in the team such as Zinedine Zidane at Juventus, in this instance he could be deployed as more of a wide player, this just emphasised how good a player Del Piero actually is.

7. Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti

Totti is the third Italian so far to feature in this list and is more of a classic trequartista, he is widely appreciated for his passing and play making skills. The reason that Totti comes in ahead of Del Piero is because of the fact Totti took the No.10 shirt off Del Piero for Italy and Totti would play in that role for the team. in the victorious 2006 World Cup campaign, Totti occupied his No.10 position and also finished the tournament with the most amount of assists.

One of the most admirable qualities of Totti is that he has been with just the one club, AS Roma for all of his footballing career. Totti has only amassed a total of 58 caps for Italy but that is because of his early international retirement to focus on club football, he hasn’t ruled out making a return for the 2014 World Cup finals.

6. Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis BergkampDennis Bergkamp was a footballing genius, some of his first touches were a work of art and as a result of that he scored some of the most amazing goals and created opportunities for his team mates in abundance.

From the school of Total Football which meant he played every position while learning his trade (with the exception of goal keeper). This way he could put himself in the shoes of a defender, which meant he would know how to take them on and beat them.

Bergkamp was part of the greatest Arsenal team ever that went unbeaten for the whole 2002-2003 season which saw them dubbed as The Invincibles.

He is one of the most intelligent footballers on this list and a joy to watch, he is also the only one with a university degree!

5. Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio

Baggio is commonly regarded as one of the greatest and is ranked the highest of the Italians on my list, despite having won less trophies than many of them whether it be at international or club level. Baggio is a cult hero, most of the players on this list would have watched Baggio play and copy what he did on the pitch.

That famous pony tail and that World Cup Final penalty shoot-out were iconic. The 1994 World Cup was some of my earliest football memories and he was one of the stand-out players of the tournament.

4. Rivaldo

Rivaldo Vítor Borba FerreiraWho can forget Rivaldo and some of the mesmerising goals that he scored? One in particular springs to mind, the last goal of his hat-trick against Valencia was a bicycle kick from outside of the area to ensure Barcelona qualified for the UEFA Champions League the following season.

Often Rivaldo was accused by the fans of Brazil for not producing the type of performances he did at club level, but with 34 goals in 74 games, a Confederations Cup, a Copa America and a World Cup under his belt, this criticism could be labelled as unfair. The problem was because of his fantastic ability, his nations fans expected more from him.

3. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho Ronaldo de Assis MoreiraRonaldinho always plays with a smile and is a player that will always be remembered for his trickery and his craft.

He is the prime example of a No.10 who can unlock defences with dribbling ability and skill alone, yes he can pass the ball as well but that is not what he is famous for.

Still plying his trade back in Brazil he is far from the player he was that tormented the biggest teams in Europe back in his Barcelona days. Still he is playing well enough at the moment and that recently earned him a recall for the national team for a friendly fixture against England.

At the age of 33 some will wonder whether Ronaldinho peaked to early, but in his prime he was the best player in the world, it took a certain Lionel Messi to knock him off that pedestal and steal his place in the Barcelona team.

2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine ZidaneZidane is my all time favourite player, he had everything in his locker.

Scorer of some of the most important goals for his teams, club and country, he was a talisman for both. Slightly taller than your average play-maker he glided around the pitch and his dribbling skills were as good as any.

Zidane won almost everything there was to win as a player, La Liga, Serie A, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, World Cup, European Championship the list goes on.

As with all the players in this top 5 he won the Ballon d’Or but also was once subject to a fee of €75 million and that was in 2001 before the ridiculous prices of today ensued.

As with many geniuses, Zidane had his flaws and we all saw this in the 2006 World Cup Final where he head-butted Marco Materazzi in the chest. This was in fact the last competitive game Zidane played in, it is fair to say he went out with a bang.

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Enough of this false 9 malarkey Messi is essentially a number 10 however he breaks the mould of all these other players, as he is a prolific goal scorer that averages nearly a goal a game.

Messi’s biggest critics will say that he shouldn’t be number one as he does not possess any international accolades. His individual awards are incredible, he has won the Ballon d’Or on four separate occasions and won everything there is to win at club level with Barcelona, possibly the greatest ever club team. It is only a matter of time before Argentina win a major tournament with Messi at the helm.

For me he is the greatest ever football player and he is still on 25 years old. There is so much more to come from him. As his legs start to go when he reaches his mid 30′s we can expect him to play a deeper role spraying passes and no doubt he will be the master of that also. Messi has the vision and ability to pull off things other players can only dream of and he can he anticipates everything before any other player can, this is what makes him stand out from the others and why he is the greatest player and will continue to break records for a long time.

Post written by The Perfect Hattrick
Blog: perfecthattrick.co.uk, Twitter: @TheHattrickBlog

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One Response to “Top 10 number 10’s in the past 10 years”

  1. Bergkamp August 6th 2013 at 7:48 AM #

    Although my username is Bergkamp and millions of people consider Ronaldinho, Zidane and Messi the best ever, yet my vote goes to Rivaldo – my favourite player of all time. Beside Maradona he is the only player capable of pulling victories for the teams out of nothing all by his own. Great player and the most underrated player ever. Booed by his own fans, still showed up at every big stage, scored goals against every big team. you just name it. Madrid, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal.. list goes on. Only player who has scored twice from centre circle, scored with bycicle kick on more than two ocassions, scored from corner’s. Creative, great dribbler, fearsome shots, freekick specialist, good header, great vision. What else needed to be a perfect footballer? Rivaldo > Zidane, Messi, R9, Ronaldinho..