The Legacy and Impact of the Number 10 in Soccer

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What is the number 10 in soccer? Jersey squad numbers are a very special part of the beautiful game that were first introduced in the Early 1900’s. Back in the day it became normal to assign a number to a specific position on the soccer team, starting with the goalkeeper as number 1 and the left winger as number 11.

Today fans and players still associate numbers with positions although the players no longer have to be matching jersey numbers and positions. Out of all the jersey numbers, one of the most iconic ones is the number 10 which is for the center attacking midfielder role.

The jersey with the number 10 is traditionally given to the most talented and creative soccer players on a team. The prestige associated with this iconic number comes from the legendary professional players who have worn the shirt in previous years.

In this blog, I will explain everything you need to know about the number 9 in soccer.

Number 10 in Soccer Image by Source

What is the Number 10 in Soccer?

The number 10 position in soccer is designated for a center attacking midfielder (CAM) who plays in the central space behind the striker or center forward. The center attacking midfielder position is known as the number 10, although that player does not necessarily have to be wearing the number 10 jersey and vice versa.

The player that is wearing the number 10 jersey does not necessarily have to be playing the center attacking midfield role, although they did back in the day which is why this position and number are related. The center attacking midfielder role also has some different names given by various nations.

For example, in Italian Football, the CAM role is referred to as the “Trequartista” because these players operate about “three quarters” up the field in between the offensive and midfield lines. In Germany, the CAM is known as the Raumdeuter, or “space investigator” while Argentinians refer to this position as the “Enganche” which translates to “the hook.”

The Prestige of the Number 10 in Soccer

The number 10 jersey in soccer is like a crown jewel, representing greatness, an attacking style of play, and it is usually given to the best player on that team. In the early days of soccer, players didn’t wear numbered jerseys. However, as tactics evolved and teams started to adopt specific formations with designated roles for each player on the field, assigning numbers to help identify their positions became necessary.

The tradition began during the 1930 FIFA World Cup, where squads were set numbers from 1 to 11 based on their position on the field – with goalkeepers wearing number one, defenders usually wearing numbers 2-5, and midfielders and forwards wearing the numbers 6-11.

The tradition of assigning specific numbers to players in soccer continues today. The most talented attacking midfielders often wear the prestigious number 10 shirt as a symbol of their role within the team – creating chances and scoring goals.

Players wearing the number 10 shirt are expected to possess a high level of talent, with an eye for spotting opportunities and imaginative play. In many cases, they are also required to take set pieces such as free kicks or penalties due to their technical abilities with dead-ball situations.

Number 10 in SoccerImage by Fermin Rodriguez

The Responsibilities of the Number 10 in Soccer

The number 10 in soccer requires a creative player with a high level of technical ability, great footwork, elite ball control skills to get out of tight spaces, excellent vision, and the ability to create chances for their team. Here is a breakdown of the main responsibilities of the Number 10 in Soccer.


The primary role of a number 10 player is to create goal-scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates. These players are often referred to as “playmakers” because they possess excellent vision, passing ability, and decision-making skills that allow them to control the tempo of a game.

Playmakers like Luka Modric excel in finding open spaces on the field, threading through balls past defenders, and delivering pinpoint crosses into dangerous areas. Some crucial parts of playmaking also include being able to create gaps and create space for teammates in the final third.

The number 10 is responsible for making the killer pass to the main striker so that they can score goals for the team.

Scoring Goals

Apart from being creative playmakers, number 10s are also expected to contribute significantly to goals scored. This requires excellent shooting abilities and great composure inside the penalty area during high-pressure moments.

Out of Possession Responsibilities

The number 10 serves as a pivotal link between the midfield and the team’s attack facilitating defensive transitions and recognizing pressing triggers. One of their primary responsibilities, when they do not have the ball, is to lead the team’s pressing efforts from the front, applying pressure on opposition defenders to force turnovers and regain possession in advanced areas.

Additionally, the number 10 must show tactical discipline and positional awareness to support defensive shape when the team is under pressure. This may involve dropping deeper into midfield to provide a numerical advantage or tracking back to cover defensive gaps and deny space to opposition attackers.

Pressure Associated with Wearing Number 10

Players who wear this iconic shirt, especially at big football clubs, must possess exceptional talent and bear the weight of being compared to the best players of all time like Pele or Maradona, who have worn this number before.

Wearing a team’s number 10 jersey means living up to the legacy left by some of soccer’s most legendary figures. Fans demand that the wearer of the iconic number 10 jersey be a difference-maker, capable of setting up chances for others and scoring goals.

Fans expect nothing less than excellence from their club’s designated playmaker, which can place immense pressure on even seasoned professionals.

Overcoming “The Curse”

The pressure of wearing number 10 can sometimes lead to what is referred to as “the curse” – a phenomenon where players struggle under the weight of expectations and fail to perform at their best. To overcome this so-called curse, players must develop coping mechanisms that allow them to thrive in high-pressure situations:

  • Embrace the challenge:
    • Instead of viewing the pressure as a negative aspect, successful number 10s see it as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.
  • Maintain focus:
    • By concentrating on their performance rather than external factors or comparisons with past legends, athletes can keep their minds clear and stay in control on-field.
  • Rely on support systems:
    • Family members, friends, coaches, and teammates play crucial roles in helping players navigate through challenging times by providing encouragement and guidance when needed most.

Greatest Players who Have Worn the Famous Number 10 Jersey

The number 10 in soccer has been worn by some of the greatest players in the history of the game, making this one of the most sought after numbers by all attacking players. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the best players in soccer history who have worn this legendary jersey.

  • Lionel Messi- FC Barcelona, Inter Miami, and Argentina
  • Diego Maradona- FC Barcelona, Napoli, Boca Juniors, Argentina,
  • Zinedine Zidane- France
  • Luka Modric- Real Madrid, Croatia
  • Rui Costa- AC Milan
  • Wayne Rooney- Manchester United, England
  • Ronaldinho- FC Barcelona, Brazil
  • Neymar- PSG, Brazil

Number 10 in Soccer

Image by Source

Frequently Asked Questions

What soccer numbers do the different types of center midfielders and central players wear?

In soccer there are three main types of central midfielders. Based on the given formation that will determine how many of each type of midfielder a team plays with.

  • The central defensive midfielders; They are known as the CDM, the number 6 or as the holding midfielder
  • The central midfielders; They are known as the number 8 or as the box to box midfielder
  • The central attacking midfielders; They are known as the CAM, Number 10 or the attacking midfielder.
  • The central defenders: They usually wear the numbers 5 and 4 and they are usually referred to as center backs
  • The center forwards: The center forward, or the striker, usually wear the 9 striker jersey.

Which squad numbers are associated with certain player positions?

One of the parts that makes soccer, or the beautiful game, so special is the fact that certain traditions have been passed down for generations, such as associating certain squad numbers with player positions. For example, the number 10 is arguably the most iconic jersey number.

Back in the day the first choice goalkeeper would wear the number 1 and the defenders, usually four defenders, would wear 1-5. The midfielders would get number 6-8 and the forwards would wear 9-11. Depending on the formation of the team the numbers would differ but these are the general unwritten rules.

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts and interviews watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.


In conclusion, the classic number 10 is one of the most prestigious jersey numbers in soccer history. The number 10 jersey is usually given to the best player of the team and the CAM position, or center attacking midfielder, is also usually referred to as the number 10.

In this blog we covered everything you need to know about the number 10 from a brief history about jersey numbers, to the main roles of the 10, as well as sharing with you some of the best number 10s of all time, who are also considered some of the greatest players to ever play the game.

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