The number 10. The guy you give the ball to and watch in awe as his dribbling or defence-splitting passes turn the whole game around. The genius in football boots. Il virtuoso. 

These days the game of football is becoming more and more oriented towards versatile, hard-working players. That's not to say that there is no talent (Messi, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo), but those somewhat romantic, free role, artistic guys, with no defensive tasks to keep them away from doing their 'thing' are, as it seems, only a memory.

Here is a list of the five most magnificent 10s in the last two decades. You may not agree with our choices, or maybe you do.

Either way, leave your own favourite number 10s in the comment box below!

5. Dragan Stojkovic

A Yugoslavian playmaker who played for Red Star Belgrade, Olympic Marseille, Verona and Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan (then coached by Arsene Wenger).

He was a fast dribbler with a keen sense for through balls and an almost perfect touch. He scored the famous two goals against Spain in the 1990 World Cup, a beautiful free kick and a close range goal where he tricked three Spanish players into sliding into their own net. His career maybe did not reach the heights it was destined to, but nevertheless he remains one of the best.

Watch him in action here

4. Rui Costa

A Portuguese virtuoso, sometimes lazy and under-performing, but deadly when in-form. His most famous spells are the ones at Fiorentina, Milan and Benfica, and people there think of him as of a legend. 

Gabriel Batistuta is one of the guys who, even though extremely talented, has to thank Costa's well-timed, precise passing for half of his scoring tally.

Watch him in action here

3. Paul Gascoigne

Gazza was simply beautiful on the field. The famous goal he scored against Scotland in the 1996 European Championships was a pure piece of magic.

Although he arguably did not play that number 10 position, Gazza is on the list because of his somewhat auto-destructive, artistic, drama queen personality and the eccentricity only a genius may possess. 

Watch him in action here

2. Ronaldinho

This guy is second on the list simply because he lost the form he maintained while playing for PSG and especially Barcelona due to his bad training habits and proneness to partying. Age is also beginning to catch up with him.

But, what a player and what a personality: his charm, both on and off the field, and his amazing, breath-taking trickery were simply astonishing. 

He now plays in Brazil, in less physically demanding conditions, and his current club Atletico Mineiro paired him up with Fred, another familiar name. 

He is showing glimpses of his previous ability and we can only hope that there is much more to come.

1. Zinedine Zidane

If you could choose the way this legend finishes his career, would you pick the headbutting of Marco Materazzi for the perfect ending? I know I would not. 

But Zizu was the type of player where 'to expect the unexpected' would be an understatement. The vision he had for both scoring and making others score and the ability to take responsibility and win on his own, the spectacular goals he scored on a regular basis and the numerous team and individual awards he won make him one of the best number 10s ever to strut his stuff on the field. 

He was slower than most of his opponents, his was not the fittest, but his imagination, his vision, his power of creation and his ability to change everything in a split second separated him from others.

 

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Topics:
#Internationals
#Paul Gascoigne
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