Pele, Maradona, Messi… generally speaking, the very best have a penchant for the No10.
Most associated with creative attacking midfielders or talented forwards, the number sometimes weighs heavy on those it blesses.
For no reason other than pure whimsy, we’ve decided to rank the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’ on the quality of their No10s over the last 20 years.
From worst to best…
6TH MAN CITY
Shaun Goater – Antoine Sibierski – Djamel Abdoun – Rolano Bianchi – Robinho – Edin Dzeko – Sergio Aguero
If nothing else, this article has reminded you of Antoine Sibierski’s existence.
Before the oil money flowed Eastlands’ way, City relied on diligent workhorses like the folliclely-challenged Frenchman to get the job done.
Nottingham Forest fans will recognise the name Djamel Abdoun — the Algerian winger made just one FA Cup appearance for City on loan in 2006/07.
Plenty of good work being done by Shaun Goater (feed him), Edin Dzeko and the club’s all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero.
But the middle stretch of relatively ineffective No10s and the ultimately doomed Robinho experiment put the Citizens bottom of this ranking.
Pierluigi Casiraghi – Slavisa Jokanovic – Joe Cole – Yossi Benayoun – Juan Mata – Eden Hazard
Just reading Pierluigi Casiraghi’s name makes our knees hurt.
The athletic Italian played ten games for Chelsea before a devastating cruciate injury forced him to hang up his boots.
The former Lazio forward ensured TEN bouts of surgery in the time between the injury and his retirement.
It’s weird to think of current Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic as Chelsea’s No10 but that was the case in the early 2000s.
Joe Cole was a class act for Jose Mourinho’s record-breaking side of the mid-noughties — his creativity allowed the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to flourish.
After a bizarre blip in the form of Yossi Benayoun, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard have restored authority to the Blues’ No10 shirt in recent years.
Michael Owen – Luis Garcia – Andriy Voronin – Joe Cole – Philippe Coutinho – (Sadio Mane)
Steven Gerrard once implied that Joe Cole was as good as Lionel Messi.
Unfortunately for the talented English midfielder, his form at Liverpool paled in comparison to his Chelsea years.
Luis Garcia was a member of the Istanbul crop and so his cult hero status is assured on Merseyside forever more, though he was somewhat limited.
Michael Owen and Philippe Coutinho’s Anfield legacies have been partially soured by their post-Liverpool behaviour but their class is not up for debate.
We can’t really include Sadio Mane in this discussion as he hasn’t played a competitive fixture as Liverpool’s No10 yet but he has what it takes to become an Anfield legend.
It’s a decent bunch, however, it’s impossible to underestimate the damage Andriy Voronin has done to this crop’s overall credibility.
The Ukranian forward limped to six goals in 40 games for the Reds and became a laughing stock.
Dennis Bergkamp – William Gallas – Robin van Persie – Jack Wilshere – (Mesut Ozil)
All hail the non-flying Dutchman, one of the greatest No10s in Premier League history.
Dennis Bergkamp brought prestige to Arsenal’s No10 shirt for 11 seasons… and then the club smeared his legacy by giving it to William Gallas.
RVP peaked when he finally got his hands on the No10 shirt in 2010/11, scoring 59 goals in 81 games before a controversial switch to Old Trafford.
Fans willed Jack Wilshere to become a Gunners legend but the boy wonder ultimately fell short.
Mesut Ozil has coveted the No10 shirt for years and Unai Emery will be hoping a change of number helps him back bounce from a turbulent summer with Germany.
Les Ferdinand – Steffan Iversen – Teddy Sheringham – Darren Bent – Robbie Keane – Rafael van der Vaart – Emmanuel Adebayor – Harry Kane
Given that Spurs have only established themselves as a regular Champions League side in recent years, it’s probably fair to say they have punched above their weight with a runners-up spot in this list.
Five of Spurs’ No10s in the last 20 years have over 100 Premier League goals to their name — and Emmanuel Adebayor is only three off a century as well.
Darren Bent wasn’t at his most prolific in a Spurs shirt and the less said about Steffan Iversen the better.
But for sheer goalscoring pedigree, this crop deserves a spot near the top.
1ST MAN UNITED
Teddy Sheringham – Ruud van Nistelrooy – Wayne Rooney – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The first thing to note is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic actually did all his good work for United in the No9 shirt.
But even so, it’s a formidable list.
Sheringham was named both Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year as an Old Trafford resident in 2000/01.
And his contribution to United’s treble-winning campaign in 1998/99 will never be forgotten by the fans.
Ruud van Nistelrooy is arguably the best poacher to grace the Premier League while Wayne Rooney is the only player other than Alan Shearer to hit a double-century of Prem goals.
Talk about football royalty.