Jersey number is identified with slick and suave antics of dazzling soccer wizards Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich and Colombia), Harry Kane (Tottenham and England) Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium), Neymar Jnr (Paris Saint Germain and Brazil), Jose Luis Valdivia (Chile), Segio Kun Aguero (Machester City), (Wesley Sneijder (formerly Bayern Munich and the Netherlands and Ronadinho Gaucho (formerly Barcelona and Brazil) who famously don the adorable inscription on their playing kits.
A generation before them, the shirt had also been worn by icons like Carols ‘El Pipe’ Valderrama of Colombia, Gary Linekar (Tottenham Hotspur and England), Enzo Francescoli ‘Le Prince’ Uriante (Uruguay), Luis Figo (Real Madrid), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid and France) Rivaldo (defender, Vitor Borba Fereira) of Brazil, Zico (Brazil), Clarence Seedorf (The Netherlands), Gheorghe Hagi (Romania), Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal and The Netherlands), Michael Owen (Liverpool and England) and Alesandro Del Piero (Juventus and Italy).
In the earlier segment of footballers, sassy and scintillating players like Johan Cryuff of the Netherlands, Michel Platini of France, John Barnes of England, Roberto Baggio of Italy, Kenny Daglish of England, Michael Laudrup of Denmark and Lothar Matthaus of Germany too wore jerseys bearing the adored number.
Here is Kenya, no one is best remembered for putting on a jersey with the most popular numeral on the football pitch and which shares identity with the official residence of the British Prime Minister – No. 10 Downing Street – than Wilberforce ‘Maradona’ Mulamba who played for both AFC Leopards soccer club and the national team Harambee Stars.
However, just like Winston Churchill left everlasting memory of No. 10 Downing Street when he served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II era, five names stand out since the invention of football sport two centuries ago as the definition, true character and role of Jersey No. 10 on a soccer field around the world.
They are Pele (Edison Arantes do Nascimento) of Brazil, Eusebio (de Silva Ferreira) of Portugal, Mario Kempes (Argentina), Diego Armando Maradona (Argentina) and Ferenc Puskas of Hungary. Though they belong to different generations and played with different sporting rules, the quintet remain as the all-time faces, names and embodiment of the No: 10 jersey on the field.
Indeed, around the globe, many other players of international repute are known to have put on jerseys bearing that digit, making it the most adorable numeral on the football pitch.
So, how did this number become so famous and revered in the football world? Indeed, there was a time in football history, and not so long, when the game was still in its nascent levels that players always wore shirt numbers 1 through to 11 when a team entered the field, but most people always sought out the No: 10 shirt. Like in the days of yore, the No: 10 jersey is back as the most adorable kit inscription on the pitch.
There was a reason for it. The No: 10 jersey was handed to the most talented; the players that always made the difference, the conductor, the player that defined games.
And such was the respect for that number that even in neighbourhood tournaments or at school, they would not allow a player to wear the No 10 if he or she did not have sufficient skills. At the amateur stage, where sometimes there was no head coach, the team would decide who would wear the esteemed No: 10 jersey.