FIFA World Cup: Rebirth of No 10 in the land of Pele

Kashinath BhattacharjeeThe jersey No 10 has witnessed a re-birth in Brazil, and how! Lionel Messi of Argentina, Neymar da Silva (Brazil), Wesley Sneijder (Holland), Karim Benzema (France), Eden Hazard (Belgium), and James Rodriguez of Colombia are all wearing the most coveted jersey on a football field, and are setting the grass on fire. The thrill of watching a No 10 showcase his breath-taking individual skills is back amongst football aficionados.

After the 1986 World Cup, the importance of No 10 had begun dwindling and although there were a few players like Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane who excelled in the shirt, players like Romario gave jersey No 11 a new dimension.

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The decline of the importance of a No 10 could be seen when Italy’s Francesco Totti was substituted in the 2006 final. Totti’s class was beyond doubt, but the World Cup belonged to a certain Andreas Pirlo, who donned the No 21 jersey. In South Africa, when Cesc Fabregas, not a regular starter, was given the number, it signalled an end of dominance of No 10s!

It seemed Tikitaka had no special place for that number. It was only natural that Xavi Hernandez (No 8) and Andres Iniesta (No 6) stole the limelight there.

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