Why Is the Number 10 Shirt So Significant In Soccer?

The coveted number 10 shirt is up for grabs at Chelsea this 2020/21 season. Who will the club honor with this famous kit number? We hope to find out soon. In the meantime, for U.S. fans wondering why No. 10 is so valuable in soccer, here’s some history and a few of the greatest football players to wear it.

When Did the Number 10 Shirt Soccer Tradition Start? 

Chelsea was one of the first teams to wear numbered shirts in football all together, way back in 1928. However, you might be surprised to know that it was as recent as 1993 when soccer shirt numbers started getting assigned to players rather than being based on positions. Before 1993, No. 10 was typically worn by forwards, specifically advanced midfielders up top. Players in these positions usually were some of the all-around best and most creative offensive players on the team. So, when the traditional numerical system ended, the aura around the number 10 shirt continued. It became a trend for teams across the globe to reserve that kit number for their best player. 

The number 10 shirt has been worn by many football legends and icons, including Diego Maradona, Pele and Lionel Messi. They wore No. 10 while starring on the biggest stages for their countries and were vital to giving the number its meaning and sense of mystique. Today, the best soccer players strive to earn the honor of wearing the number 10 jersey for their team, because it’s attached to such prestige and is a sign of earned respect.

Who Are the Greatest Football Players Ever to Wear the Number 10 Kit? 

Jersey No. 10 is the holy grail in soccer. From the English Premier League to the World Cup, it has inspired brilliant performances and been worn with a deep sense of pride due to its legendary history. In no particular order, here are just a few of the all-time greats who have donned the number 10 shirt:

  • Diego Maradona
  • Pele
  • Lionel Messi
  • Michael Owen
  • Kaka
  • Ronaldinho
  • Zinedine Zidane
  • Roberto Baggio
  • Wayne Rooney
  • Neymar Jr.
  • Landon Donovan
  • Francesco Totti 
  • Michel Platini

What Is the History of Chelsea’s Number 10 Shirt? 

The number has been worn by many Chelsea legends in the past, including Ian Hutchinson, Charlie Cooke and Terry Venables donning the iconic shirt. Since 1993, nine players have been honored with wearing the No. 10 for Chelsea

  • Gavin Peacock: August 1993–December 1996
  • Mark Hughes: December 1996–July 1998
  • Pierluigi Casiraghi: July 1998–August 2000
  • Slaviša Jokanović: October 2000–July 2001
  • Joe Cole: August 2003–July 2010
  • Yossi Benayoun: July 2010–August 2011
  • Juan Mata: August 2011–January 2014
  • Eden Hazard: January 2014–August 2019
  • And most recently, Willan wore the number 10 kit for Chelsea: August 2019–August 2020

Who Will Be Chelsea’s New No. 10? 

With Willan’s departure, the number 10 shirt for Chelsea is currently vacant. There are some worthy contenders to be the tenth player to wear No. 10 at Chelsea, starting in the 2020/21 season and hopefully beyond. 

Many American Chelsea fans are rooting for Christian Pulisic to get the honor. Pulisic wore the number 10 shirt on the international stage for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT). However, he has never worn the number 10 shirt at Chelsea. Fans hope it’s a good omen that he currently has Willian’s previous number 22 shirt. 

Regardless of who is picked, it’d certainly be an honor for any of our players to follow in the footsteps of Hazard, Willian and other talented players by wearing the prestigious number 10 shirt. U.S. fans, who do you think should get the honor for the Blues? Download The 5th Stand, Chelsea’s official mobile app, and leave a comment for this article.


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