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GLENN HODDLE: Lionell Messi proves No 10 is magic number

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13 Apr 2010 00:17:00

GLENN HODDLE: Lionell Messi proves No 10 is magic number

The No 10 shirt, the signature number of the creator with the end product, the playmaker. I craved it when I was coming up through the ranks playing junior football; it was the shirt number I aspired to wear. Pele had worn it, Michel Platini was wearing it, so was Zico, then the modern Brazilian master. Later, so too Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. Strangely, Johan Cruyff didn't wear it, but he could have done. He was that kind of player, but knowing Johan, he wanted to be different. More recently, Dennis Bergkamp and Gianfranco Zola were No 10s. Like Cruyff, Eric Cantona would have been ideal to wear the shirt, but he went for the iconic No 7 at Manchester United (George Best's shirt) and wore that with some style. The original: Hoddle - hailed as a natural No 10 - celebrates for Spurs in 1987 One more to add to that group is the Italian Giancarlo Antognoni, a World Cup winner in 1982; as a No 10, he was like a ballerina. I was drawn to the shirt, I wanted to be that kind of player.  Competition: Win a pair of Lionel Messi adidas Tunit F50 boots - courtesy of prodirectsoccer.comMessi: You couldn't even stop him as a kid, says team-mate PiqueEXCLUSIVE: Messi hat-trick was not as fast as mine, says record-holder NewellMessi humble after battering Arsenal as star sets his sights on beating RealVIDEO SPECIAL: Messi masterclass! Sportsmail salutes Barcelona striker  I first wore it for the under 11s and for the school team and later for Tottenham's first team, but it was only when I went to France that they spoke about it. When I went to Monaco, they greeted me by saying: 'You are the No 10.' It was music to my ears. It wasn't something I had heard in England, where the pitches were muddy and the game was about the long ball. In the 1980s it was hard to play that role, really hard. In France, probably because of Platini, they named a position after the shirt. Back here, we weren't playing the same way or with the same systems, so it didn't always allow for the 'No 10 position' in the team. How Wednesday's Sportsmail sawMessi's four-goal rout of Arsenal Anyway, often the No 10 shirt was worn by a striker, like Gary Lineker. With England, I played most of my games on the right side of midfield, so they would give me the No 7 shirt. Or sometimes the No 4. To me, 10 was the shirt that stood for creativity and ability; a player who can open a game with a pass, with either foot, or score a decisive goal. It sure looks right on the back of Lionel Messi - he's an entertainer, a creator, a footballer, a goalscorer, a finisher, an artist. He is a perfect No 10. He wasn't a bad advert for what the shirt should stand for, was he? Watching the game, he might have scored a double hat-trick in the first half, when you consider he had missed three chances before scoring his first. He scored 38 goals last season and has already scored 39 this season. Add that to the chances he has created! He has electric pace, he's dynamic and unique. Funnily enough, he goes quiet for spells, but seems to switch on when he senses he can create some danger. He'll lend the ball to Xavi or Iniesta and then when it returns, he'll be alive and ready. Touch of gold: Messi strikes his first of four against Arsenal at the Nou Camp He is an excellent player in a very good team, with the right platform and playing on a surface that allows him to dribble freely. GLENN HODDLE ACADEMY Glenn Hoddle's Academy for players seeking a route back intoprofessional football has recently placed 11 players with Spanishclubs. For more details log on to www.glennhoddleacademy.com In Spain, they seem to appreciate smaller players. In England, the clubs are still looking for giants, whereas the Spanish clubs appreciated Messi, Xavi, Iniesta... small can be beautiful. And Messi is the best example of that. Before him, Ronaldinho wore 10 at Barcelona and now it's the number for Kaka with Real Madrid and Wayne Rooney with Manchester United. The game has changed, but the tradition lives on. None more so than with Lionel Messi.  Competition: Win a pair of Lionel Messi adidas Tunit F50 boots - courtesy of prodirectsoccer.comMessi: You couldn't even stop him as a kid, says team-mate PiqueEXCLUSIVE: Messi hat-trick was not as fast as mine, says record-holder NewellMessi humble after battering Arsenal as star sets his sights on beating RealVIDEO SPECIAL: Messi masterclass! Sportsmail salutes Barcelona striker


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