The good and bad of the magic number

2009-08-21 12:36

WHAT’s in a number?

Football’s most sought after jersey, the number 10, is usually reserved for the most outstanding players on the pitch.

Since it was made famous by the world’s greatest practitioner of the pigskin game, Edison Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, it has become a trademark.

The vastly gifted Brazilian is also credited with giving the term “The Beautiful Game” to soccer.

Since then a number of talented players such as Diego Maradona (Argentina), Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane (both France), John Cruyf, Ruud Gullit (both Netherlands), Italians Roberto Baggio and Alessandro del Piero, have turned the magical number 10 into every player’s dream jersey to wear.

Locally Jomo Sono’s trademark was recognisable by the same two figures during his halcyon days as the Orlando Pirates’ star.

But it appears not all of the current crop of players sporting this renowned symbol have lived up to expectations.

Has it become just another figure or does it still bear the same old meaning

A glance at this year’s Confederations Cup reveals that not all of the eight players who wore this famous jersey have made their mark on the field of play to deserve this honour.

Brazilian playmaker Kaka tops the list of those deserving this unique mantle as he was one of the most outstanding players in the tournament.

He opened the event with a brace against Egypt and also had two assists in Brazil’s goals.

Kaka has lived up to his pre-tournament tag of being one of the best in the world as he helped Brazil to reach the final.

Bafana Bafana’s Steven Pienaar was not far off as he also showed his class in the middle of the park.

The Everton midfielder was arguably Bafana’s most industrious player as he not only initiated attacking moves but also tracked back to defend, which had previously not been one of his strongest points.

Pienaar also earned the tag of the tournament’s quickest player.

One of the tournament’s revelations in the number 10 jersey has been US midfielder Landon Donovan, who miraculously helped his side to reach the final against all odds.

The LA Galaxy midfielder might not be one of most fancied players in the world but his work rate has been outstanding in the tournament.

He worked tirelessly in the middle of the park, covering 34 263m behind his teammates Michael Bradley (36 426m) and Clint Dempsey (34 855m) in the three group matches.

Donovan helped the Obama Boys to reach today’s final first by beating Egypt 3-0 to pip Italy into the semifinal and when they beat Spain 2-0 in the semifinal.

Spain’s Cesc Fabregas was not far off as well as he orchestrated moves from the middle of the park.

He was impressive in the game against South Africa and earned his side a penalty in the second half.

Italy’s Daniele De Rossi did not have a good tournament by his standards.

Egypt’s number 10, Ahmed Eid, was overshadowed by Mohamed Zidan and Mohamed Aboutrika.

New Zealand’s star player, Chris Killen, did not come to the party.

Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud also did not make a mark.

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