The Number 10

The Number 10

Think jersey numbers are pointless? Well, think again. From football to baseball and everything in between, your number will typically refer to your position, skill, or even longevity on the squad. But, soccer tends to take it just a bit further — number ten, king of the pitch. Often enough, the number 10 will be traditionally reserved for the most important player on the field, as he typically acts as the facilitator and engine of the team.

Simply put, this player controls the pace of the game and his teammates follow suit.

At beginning of kit introductions in soccer, numbering was relatively basic: the keeper wore number 1, the defensive four made up numbers 2-5, etc. The number 10, coincidentally, fell on the players positioned just behind the forward(s) as a central attacking midfielder. Players like Diego Maradona and Pelé wore 10 and the number soon took on a legacy of its own.

However, it’s important to remember that a number 10 in formation does not need to physically wear that number — now, when people use the phrase, it’s a classification, not a tangible item. In fact, famous players like Wesley Sneijder, Andrea Pirlo, and Mesut Ozil are classified as Number 10’s but wear other numbers for their clubs, so don’t be fooled. every soccer team needs a chance-creator and professional clubs pay fortunes for these players.

But what makes these players so good?

Technical Ability

The Number 10 is a master of the soccer fundamentals. The player’s passing, dribbling, and ball control are his specialty. Every time he receives the ball, he’s able to reset or continue the play. Some of the best Number 10 players aren’t breathtakingly fast, but, with their technical ability, can find space and relax the flow of the game. Francesco Totti still controls each game at 36 years old because he has the ball skills needed for the Number 10 position. Passing, dribbling, and ball control are the first things kids learn in youth soccer, and they are vital even at the professional level.


Have you ever watched a soccer game and been amazed that a player could even see the person that he passes to? The Number 10 treats a soccer game like a game of chess. He can see a scoring chance three passes before it is there. Vision on the soccer field means creativity and soccer intelligence. As the chance creator, the Number 10 guides the team towards the goal. They have the intuition to pick the best option while in possession of the ball, orchestrating the play. Try thinking of them as the quarterback of the soccer field.


The Number 10 needs to be a dominant presence on the soccer field at all times — and, typically, they are either the captain or one of the leaders. For a Number 10 to be successful, the other players have to be willing to follow that player’s example and let the game flow through him. The best Number 10’s are confident in their role and want the ball all the time. They need to be both selfish and respected by their teammates at the same time. They have the Manager’s strategies down to science and act as his transplant personality on the field — it is up to this player to quicken or slow the pace if necessary.

The Number 10 Mentality

One particularly interesting case is that of Andres Iniesta, one of Barcelona FC’s midfielders. He does not, in fact, wear 10 on his jersey, that distinction belongs to the far more popular Lionel Messi. But in terms of fitting the description that goes with the phrase Number 10, look no further than Iniesta.

For years, Iniesta has dominated the middle of the pitch for one of Europe’s best squads, twisting and turning his way out of precarious positions. His dribbling is immaculate and his passing could be the Eighth Wonder of the World. If you’ve never watched Iniesta’s playmaking abilities before – make some popcorn and just try to pick your jaw up off the floor.

(Related: Read about ball control here.

Huddle Up

The Number 10 has become an honorary number rather than a positional number in recent years. To earn the the Number 10 role on your team, you need to practice the basics, study the sport, and be confident. Soccer training never ends and you can always take your game to another level with hard work and proper instruction. At any level of soccer, a good Number 10 will transform the entire team.

But, if you’re still struggling with some of these ideals, if that you could use a tune-up, consider hiring one of CoachUp’s private trainers to help you out. Our team has decades of experience and they’d love to bestow some of it on you — so what are you waiting for?

CoachUp is the safest and easiest way to find a coach for personalized training. With our 100% money-back guarantee and vetted coaches, anyone can achieve their full athletic potential. Find your perfect coach today and become the athlete you want to be!

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