The Perfect 10

Richard Williams

The Perfect 10: Dreamers, schemers, playmakers and playboys: the men who wore football’s magic number – in eleven chapters on ten enigmas (plus one forgotten nearly man who makes it to the bench), Richard Williams unravels the fact, legend and myth of the shirt number that encapsulates everything that excites about the beautiful game.

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Puskas of Hungary in the ’50s; Pele of Brazil and Gianni Rivera of Italy in the ’60s; Platini of France in the ’70s; Diego Maradona of Argentina in the ’80s; Baggio and Zidane in the ’90s. The most magical. supremely talented footballers of the post-war period have all worn the Number 10 shirt.

Puskas presided over the regal Real Madrid side that won five consecutive European Cups between 1955 and 1960 and like his fellow number 10s in the football hall of fame and infamy, shares the uncanny ability to transcend the role of mere ‘player’. The terms ‘inside forward’, ‘playmaker’ or fantasista fail to capture the instinct for genius that characterises all great Number 10s. In ten mini-biographical essays on some of the greatest players the world has ever seen Richard Williams explores the astonishing creative influence of the most celebrated players to wear the shirt and recreates some of the most memorable moments witnessed on a football field.


Richard Williams writes about sport and music for the Guardian. He is the author of The Last Road Race, Long Distance Call: Writings on Music, The Death of Ayrton Senna and Enzo Ferrari: A Life. His previous jobs include chief sports writer for the Independent, editor of the Independent on Sunday’s Review, editor of Time Out and the Melody Maker…

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