Everything You Need to Know About the Number 10 in Soccer

You’re watching a soccer game and the opponent’s defense is like a brick wall. No way through, right? Just when you think the game’s at a standstill, a player positioned just behind the striker does something extraordinary.

With a flick of his foot, he sends an incredibly accurate pass slicing through the defense, creating the best chance of the game. You notice he’s wearing a “Number 10” jersey. You might wonder why every big chance creation, set piece, and free kick is on the shoulders of Number 10. Don’t worry, we will guide you through the Number 10 soccer position in this article in full detail.

What is a Number 10 in Soccer?

A number 10 is basically the team’s playmaker, the guy who operates in that sweet spot between the midfield and the front line. This is the player who gets the ball “between the lines,” meaning between the opponent’s midfield and defense.

They’re the ones making those killer passes, dribbling through tight spaces, and setting up goals. They’re not just there to show off their skills; they’ve got a job to do. They connect the defense and midfield to the attackers, creating opportunities for goals with their clever moves and passes.

In today’s game, the number 10 role has evolved. They’re not just hanging around the middle anymore. Sometimes you’ll see them deep in the penalty area, supporting the striker, or even out wide, helping wingers. They’ve got a broader skill set now, which makes them even more crucial to the team’s success.

Why the Number 10 Jersey is Considered to Be So Significant

Some of the most well-known and successful soccer players in history, such as Messi, Maradona, Zidane, etc., have worn the Number 10 jersey. When you see that number, you’re expecting some top-tier play.

This jersey is usually given to an aggressive midfielder or player who creates chances. They’re the ones who set up goals and make plays that change the game.

With great power comes great responsibility. Players who wear the number 10 jersey have the best skills as soccer players. It means being good at something, being creative, and being able to win games.

Also, being number 10 is one of the most fun and interesting spots to play or watch someone else play.

When Did Shirt Numbers Originate in Soccer?

Australian teams Sydney Leichhardt and HMS Powerful were the first to wear squad numbers on their backs in 1911. This is where shirt numbers got their start in football. After a year, football numbers had to be used in New South Wales.

English football fans first saw numbered shirts in 1928, when Arsenal played Sheffield Wednesday in a friendly. The idea came from Arsenal boss Herbert Chapman, who thought it would make it easier for fans and commentators to recognize players.

But it wasn’t until 1939 that the English Football League made shirt numbers required. The league also made it so that each player on both teams had to wear a number from 1 to 11 on the pitch. Each number represented a different role.

History of the Number 10 Jersey

The number 10 jersey has a long and storied history in soccer. Some of the best players in the game have worn it, including Pelé, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, and Lionel Messi.

The Number 10 jersey has long been considered soccer royalty. Why? Legends like Pele and Maradona started it. They wore the number 10 and set the bar high. Today, players like Messi continue the trend. Not only is skill important, but fans’ emotional connection to this number is also important. Because their idols wore Number 10, young players picked it, creating a generational domino effect.

In the early days of named shirts, players were given numbers based on where they were on the pitch. Number 1 was for goalkeepers, 2–5 for defenders, 6–8 for midfielders, and 9–11 for strikers.

This method has evolved, though. Players can now choose their jersey numbers; thus, their number no longer determines where they play.

Role of a Soccer Number 10

The number 10 in soccer is like the team’s MVP. Here’s what they do:

  • Make plays: They set up goals for other players. Think of them as the assist king.
  • Score: They’re not just passing; they can score goals too. They know when to shoot and make it count.
  • Run the Show: They control how fast or slow the game goes. They’re like the team’s on-field boss.
  • Quick Touches: They usually take a maximum of 2 touches before passing the ball, as they want the game to flow at a certain speed.
  • Be the Leader: They’re the go-to person when the team needs a boost. They’re expected to make big plays and get everyone pumped up.
  • Find the Gap: They hang out between the midfield and the front guys, finding spaces to make plays.
  • Got Skills: They’re usually the best players on the team when it comes to handling the ball and making quick choices.
  • Switch it up: The game changes, and they adapt. Whether the team needs to defend or attack, they can do both.
  • Help on Defense: They’re about more than just scoring and passing. They also help stop the other team by blocking passes and getting the ball back.

What Position is the Number 10 in Soccer?

The number 10 in soccer is usually the team’s star playmaker. This player is an attacking midfielder who hangs out just behind the forwards. They’re the ones who make the magic happen, setting up goals and even scoring some themselves. They find pockets of space between the opponent’s defense and midfield, a spot often called the “hole” or the “Number 10 position.” While they’re mainly in the middle, they have the freedom to move around the field to create plays. So, they’re not just stuck in one spot; they’re all over the place making things happen.

How to Play as a Number 10 in Soccer

As a number 10, you’re the team’s main playmaker when you’re on the attack.

Attacking Role

  • Find Open Spaces: Always be on the lookout for gaps between the opponent’s defense and midfield. That’s your playground.
  • Quick Decisions: Keep scanning the field so you know where everyone is. This helps you make fast and smart choices when you get the ball.
  • Pass and Move: Quick, snappy passes can throw off the defense. Take a maximum of 2 touches only. Pass the ball and then move to a new spot to get it back or help a teammate.
  • Take Your Shots: If you’re near the penalty box and see an opening, go for it. Take that shot!
  • Run Behind the Defense: Make runs behind the defense to get on the end of long passes. This can catch the other team off guard and create scoring chances.
  • Predict Player Moves: Keep an eye on your teammates making runs. Try to predict where they’ll be so you can deliver that perfect pass.
  • Be Bold with Passes: Don’t be afraid to make killer passes. As a Number 10, you’re expected to think outside the box. Sometimes you’ll lose possession, but that’s okay. You’re the one trying to make something special happen.

Defensive Role

Alright, so you can’t just be all about the goals and assists; you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get dirty on defense too. 

  • Cut-Off Passes: It’s your job to make things hard for the other team. When they try to pass, get in the way and make them think twice before they try.
  • Put pressure on their midfielders; don’t let them breathe for a second. Do your best to get the ball back by getting close.
  • Drop Back: You may need to help your own defense sometimes. When the other team is pushing hard, move back towards your goal.
  • When you come in defense to help, you don’t have to tackle, but you can use your brain to pick off passes or block shots.

What Are the Benefits of Playing With a Number 10?

A number 10 is like having a weapon on your side. I’ll tell you why they’re so cool

  • More Creativity: A number 10 can make plays that others can’t. They set up goals and can even score some themselves.
  • Hard to Predict: Defenders need help figuring out what a number 10 will do next. This keeps the other team guessing and opens up space for other players.
  • Leadership: A good number 10 is often the leader on the field. They keep the team focused and can pump everyone up.
  • Additional attacking threat: Besides the main strikers, a number 10 adds another layer of attack. This makes it harder for the other team to defend against you.
  • Flexibility: The best part? A number 10 can play in different spots up front, giving the coach more options.

What Are the Disadvantages to Playing With a Number 10?

  • Defensive Gaps: Players like Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez, who wore the number 10, are great at attacking but could be more hot on defense. This can leave a hole in the midfield when your team needs the ball.
  • Too Much Focus: Sometimes, the team relies too much on the Number 10 to create plays. If they’re having an off day, the whole team can struggle.
  • Predictability: If the other team knows you’re always going to play through your number 10, they can set up to stop them by marking. This makes your attack easier to defend against.
  • High Cost: These players often come with big salaries and high transfer fees. That’s a lot of money for a player who might need help on defense.
  • Flexibility Issues: While a number 10 can play in different attacking roles, they could be better in defensive or wide positions. This can limit how you set up your team.

Also Read: Difference Between Soccer Field Vs Football Field Explained by Soccer Coach

How Coaches Can Identify and Develop Number 10 Players

Alright, so you’re a coach and you’re on the hunt for that special Number 10 player—the one who’s going to be the game-changer for your team. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Technical Skills: Look for players who are good at dribbling, passing, and shooting. These are the basics.
  • Game Understanding: They should read the game well and make quick decisions. You don’t want someone who’s lost on the field.
  • Creativity: You want a player who can think outside the box, someone who can make that killer passes that split the defense.
  • Quick Touches: Your ideal Number 10 should be quick on their feet. They usually take no more than two touches before making their move. It keeps the game fast and the defense on their toes.
  • Defensive Help: Modern soccer ain’t just about scoring goals; it’s a team effort that includes defense. Your number 10 should be willing to track back and help out on the defensive end too.

Famous Soccer Players With the Number 10

Some of the most famous Number 10 soccer players include

  1. Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands) – Known for his technical skills, Bergkamp was a magician on the field.
  2. Andrés Iniesta (Spain) – A midfield maestro, Iniesta was all about vision and control.
  3. Pele (Brazil) – A legend who needs no introduction, Pele was the epitome of soccer greatness.
  4. Zinedine Zidane (France) – Zidane’s headbutt is as famous as his footballing skills, a true Number 10.
  5. Mesut Özil (Germany) – Known for his vision and playmaking abilities, although often criticized for his lack of defensive work.
  6. Michel Platini (France) – A free-kick specialist and a prolific scorer, Platini was a complete Number 10.
  7. Diego Maradona (Argentina) – Famous for his “Hand of God,” Maradona was a genius on the field.
  8. Johan Cruyff (Netherlands) – The man behind the “Cruyff Turn,” he was a pioneer of modern soccer.
  9. George Best (Northern Ireland) – Known as the “fifth Beatle,” Best was as famous off the field as he was on it.
  10. Alfredo Di Stéfano (Argentina/Spain) – A versatile forward, Di Stéfano was a key player for Real Madrid in their early glory days.
  11. Ferenc Puskás (Hungary) – Known for his incredible goal-scoring record, Puskás was a Hungarian legend.
  12. Eusébio (Portugal) – The “Black Panther” was known for his speed and his incredible goal-scoring ability.
  13. Roberto Baggio (Italy) – Famous for his missed penalty in the ’94 World Cup, Baggio was otherwise a remarkable player.
  14. Ronaldinho (Brazil) – With a smile always on his face, Ronaldinho played soccer as if he were dancing.
  15. Gheorghe Hagi (Romania) – Known as the “Maradona of the Carpathians,” Hagi was a left-footed genius.

Moder-Day Stars with Number 10

  1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
  2. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) 
  3. James Maddison (England)
  4. Neymar Jr. (Brazil)
  5. Luka Modrić (Croatia) 
  6. Paulo Dybala (Argentina)
  7. Christian Pulisic (USA) 
  8. Marco Reus (Germany)
  9. Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
  10. Kai Havertz (Germany) 
  11. Marcus Rashford (England) 
  12. Joao Felix (Portugal) 
  13. Alejandro Gómez (Argentina)
  14. Martin Ødegaard (Norway) 
  15. Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina)

Number 10 USA Soccer Team

Christian Pulisic is currently wearing the number 10 jersey for the US men’s national soccer team. He is a player who excels as a right winger or attacking midfielder for the renowned Serie A club AC Milan. He also leads the United States team. Has earned the nickname “Captain America.” Pulisic is highly regarded for his dribbling skills, explosive speed, and impressive finishing ability.

Summing Up on Number 10 Position in Soccer

So, what’s the big deal with the number 10 in soccer? Well, this player is the team’s star, the one who makes all the magic happen. They’re the playmakers, the ones setting up goals and even scoring some themselves. But it’s not just about offense; modern Number 10s also help out on defense.

Gone are the days when the Number 10 could just chill out upfield while their team defended. Modern number 10s press high, battle with full-backs, and block midfield passes. 

Overall, in soccer, the number 10 jersey holds value. Some of the most illustrious players in the game have worn the jersey. These individuals serve as inspirations for young soccer players globally, demonstrating that the number 10 jersey represents skills and imaginative play.

Faqs on Number 10 Position in Soccer

Why is Number 10 Special in Football?

The number 10 jersey in soccer is like the crown jewel. It’s usually given to the team’s most creative and skilled player. This player is the one who makes the magic happen on the field, setting up goals and even scoring a few themselves. The number 10 is often the team’s playmaker, operating in the space between the midfield and the attack. So, when you see a player wearing the number 10, you know they’re a big deal.

What Does Number 9 and 10 Mean in Soccer?

In soccer, the number 9 is usually the team’s main striker, the one who’s expected to score the most goals. The number 10, on the other hand, is the playmaker. They’re the ones creating opportunities for number 9 and other attackers. While the number 9 is more about finishing plays, the number 10 is about starting them. So, think of them as two sides of the same coin, both crucial for a team’s attack.

Why Does Messi Wear 10?

Lionel Messi wears the number 10 jersey for a few reasons:

  • It is the traditional number for an attacking midfielder, which is his position on the field.
  • Some of his idols, such as Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho, wore that particular number.
  • It is a number that symbolizes excellence and creativity in soccer.
  • It is a number that he feels comfortable and confident in.

Messi has said that he is proud to wear the number 10 jersey, and he knows that it comes with a lot of responsibility. He is determined to live up to the expectations of the players who have worn the jersey before him.

When he moved to Paris Saint-Germain, the Number 10 was already taken, so he chose 30, thanks to Neymar letting him use it.

About the author


Hi I"m Aryan a pro soccer player, coach, and visionary in the world of soccer. With an impressive journey that began at the tender age of five, I have dedicated my life to the beautiful game.

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