There can be little debate or argument that the number 10 jersey occupies a special place in the hearts of all those who love our beautiful game.
There are too many superstar names that have adorned the hallowed 10 jersey for us to discuss them all here in one place, so we've started a series. Argentina's up first. La Albiceleste can lay claim to some of the finest and most gloriously gifted players in football history.
🇦🇷 Argentina number 10s
💙 Diego Maradona
There's no other place to start than with the late, great Diego Armando Maradona. A man who was an archetypal number 10 boasted trickery, dribbling skills, flamboyance and the ability to make you expect the unexpected on a football pitch.
Diego is now physically immortalised with the renaming of Napoli's stadium and memories of Maradona in a number 10 jersey for Argentina, Barcelona, Napoli and Boca Juniors will never die. Greatness lives forever.
🏹 Ariel Ortega
The master of the dink. Ortega chipped goalkeepers for fun and carved out an entertaining career spanning stints with River Plate, Valencia, Sampdoria, Parma, Fenerbahce and Newell's Old Boys. As is sometimes the case with ultra-talented flair footballers, Ortega struggled with consistency and occasionally fell victim to his own indiscipline. Still, he was a lot of fun to watch.
Start the sabbath with this unholy piece of finishing from Ariel Ortega for Samp vs Inter 22 years ago today.— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) March 21, 2021
💫 Pablo Aimar
The diminutive midfield magician's invention and vision made him one of the finest creative players of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Aimar was an elegant, effortless dribbler with a low centre of gravity and superb balance. Leo Messi idolized him as a kid and Diego Maradona went on record saying that he was the only player he’d pay to watch. High praise indeed.
💫⚽ This is Pablo Aimar! ⚽💫 pic.twitter.com/BNPz1Fcddz— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) May 30, 2019
Injuries plagued Pablo Aimar's time in Europe but he still dazzled fans and collected silverware along the way on a colourful journey.
🎨 Juan Román Riquelme
"Mercurial" is a word that's thrown around a lot to describe footballers, and it's one that pretty neatly sums up Juan Román Riquelme. The ex-Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Villarreal playmaker was as stylish and elegant a footballer as you're ever likely to dream about watching in the flesh. Riquelme played the game at his own pace and he was a joy to behold.
Frustratingly for fans of the European scene, the majority of his club success came with Boca Juniors, his boyhood club with whom he won three Copa Libertadores titles. Interestingly enough, he shares a birthday with Leo Messi.
Juan Riquelme at his brilliant best. pic.twitter.com/AcyteChM5g— 90s Football (@90sfootball) January 25, 2019
🐐 Lionel Messi
The great man has been a living, breathing symbol of the number 10 jersey for club and country for over a decade. Barcelona handed him the honour at the outset of the 2008-09 campaign and his performances will be a tough, almost impossible act to follow. Scoring goals, creating goals, providing hundreds upon hundreds of chances for teammates and slotting free-kicks have all been in a day's work for arguably the greatest footballer that ever drew breath.
Phew. The next step in the series will zero in on the most famous number 10s down the years for five-time World Champions Brazil. The Seleção has had quite a few of them so get ready.