Marcus Rashford is the latest forward to take the no.10 shirt at Man United
The no.10 shirt conjures images of the greatest to play the game.
Pele, Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio and Lionel Messi have all left an indelible mark on football wearing the no.10 on their back.
It’s a number traditionally reserved for the playmaker-in-chief. The maverick who’s given the keys to the city and told not to worry about a curfew.
Not at Man United.
For more than 20 years United have defied convention when handing out the no.10 shirt.
Not since David Beckham in 1996 has a midfielder taken on the responsibility of wearing the hallowed number.
Despite being synonymous with United’s no.7 shirt, Beckham was actually wearing no.10 on his back when he scored his iconic half-way line goal against Wimbledon.
After one season as a no.10 Beckham moved to no.7, allowing striker Teddy Sheringham to inherit the shirt.
Sheringham had arrived from Spurs and spent four seasons at Old Trafford, winning three league titles, one FA Cup, one Charity Shield, one Intercontinental Cup and, of course, a Champions League medal.
In 2001 Sheringham’s contract expired and he headed back to Spurs on a free signing to play under Glenn Hoddle.
The next no.10 through the door was penalty spot botherer Ruud van Nistelrooy, who arrived from PSV in the summer of 2001.
Van Nistelrooy embarked on five seasons of turning the no.10 role on its head due to his outright refusal when it came to leaving the penalty box.
Real Madrid came calling in 2006, at which point cracks had begun to emerge between Sir Alex Ferguson and Van Nistelrooy. There was only ever going to be one winner there.
For the 2006/07 United’s no.10 shirt remained vacant.
But Anderson’s arrival ahead of the 2007/08 season freed Wayne Rooney to move two numbers higher.
He’s about the closest thing United have had to a traditional no.10, although his best years at Old Trafford were when he was operating in the final third rather than dropping deep.
Rooney’s exit in 2017 allowed Zlatan Ibrahmovic to inherit the shirt in his second season at the club.
Never a man to shy away from the pressure, Ibrahimovic was limited to five Premier League appearances before walking off into Los Angeles’ sun in March.
It’s a hard life.
The latest incumbent is Marcus Rashford, who’s put in the hard yards wearing United’s no.39 and no.19 shirt.
United have again handed the number to a forward, although there’s every chance Jose Mourinho will have him playing right-back before the season is out.
Over to you, Marcus.