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Lionel Messi wears no. 10.
Neymar wears no. 10.
Wayne Rooney wears no. 10.
Recent winners of the Ballon d’Or, given to the best player in the world, include Michael Owen, Kaká, and Ronaldinho, all of whom wore no. 10.
Nigeria’s Mikel Obi wears no. 10 even though his overall performance at the World cup hasn’t been impressive to say the least.
Part of the reasoning for the popularity of the no. 10 goes back to Diego Maradona and Pelé, two of the greatest players that ever lived. They both wore no. 10, so it would be a natural extension for many of today’s best players to choose that number.
But there is actually more to it than that and it starts with why both Maradona and Pelé wore the greatest of football numbers.
When players were first assigned numbers, the starting 11 were given numbers 1-11 with the goalkeeper wearing no. 1, the defenders wearing the next lowest numbers, and the forwards wearing the biggest numbers.
This is much the same reason that single digits are so popular in baseball. When numbers were first assigned it was based on their position in the batting order. Thus Babe Ruth wore no. 3 and Lou Gehrig wore no. 4, for example.
The most common formation used by soccer teams when numbering started was 2-3-5, that is two defenders, three midfielders, and five forwards. The players were assigned numbers based on these positions.