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Totti, Owen and Van Nistelrooy eye perfect 10
Ed OsmondLisbon | June 10, 2004 13:15 IST
Latvia midfielder Andrejs Rubins is unlikely to join the list of great number 10s but Francesco Totti, Michael Owen and Ruud van Nistelrooy just might.
Playmaker Totti and strikers Owen and Van Nistelrooy head the list of players at Euro 2004 hoping to extend the mystique of the game's most magical number, worn by Pele, Diego Maradona and Michel Platini.
Zinedine Zidane has already booked his place in that elite, the three-times World Footballer of the Year having helped France win the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with his superb control and sublime passing.
Although he has not always worn the number 10, Zidane possesses all the qualities associated with the jersey.
"He dominates the ball, he is a walking spectacle and he plays as if he has silk gloves on each foot," former Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano said of the Frenchman.
Totti has not fulfilled his huge potential for Italy but has the chance to emulate the feats of Roberto Baggio, the last great player to wear the Azzurri number 10 shirt.
"France won the European Championship thanks to Platini who gave them the added value of a gifted midfielder," Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni said.
"Totti is similar to Platini in that respect. Maybe Italy has never had anyone so strong and decisive as him."
Owen and Van Nistelrooy are prolific goalscorers, lacking the traditional artistry of many great number 10s but making up for that with their ruthless finishing.
Other candidates to shine in the number 10 jersey include Spain striker Fernando Morientes, fresh from a prolific season with Monaco, Tomas Rosicky, the main creative force in the Czech Republic side, and silky Portugal forward Rui Costa.
Among those less likely to make headlines may be Greece midfielder Vassilis Tsartas and Denmark striker Martin Joergensen.
With the famous number 10 on their backs, however, they could just be inspired.