The number 10 holds a special place in soccer lore. It’s been worn by some of the greatest players in history.
Pele wore number 10. Diego Maradona wore it. Lionel Messi wears it. Interestingly, the reason the 10 became so iconic is kind of coincidental.
In soccer, much like baseball, each position on the pitch has a number attached to it. The 10 is the player just below the striker, and it takes a special talent to play that spot.
“That position on the field creates the majority of the excitement, whether it’s through the passing or the running or the scoring,” says Loyal SC manager Landon Donovan. “It’s a legendary number that just grows and grows and grows and that’s why you see the best players in the world wear it.”
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
Today the 10 has moved beyond being position-specific. It’s a number that’s earned by the greatest or most important player on a club. In their inaugural year, San Diego Loyal SC didn’t have anyone wear 10, and that was by design.
“I wanted to take my time, very intentionally, to make sure the right person was wearing it at the right time,” says Donovan.
The time is now. The player is Alejandro Guido.
“It’s an honor. I’m really grateful to be trusted with the number 10. I think it’s a great match with me being from Chula Vista and being able to represent my home town, I think it’s awesome,” says Guido.
A Mater Dei High alum, Guido has played for the U.S. Men’s National Team. As a professional he’s represented the Tijuana Xolos of Liga MX and LAFC of Major League Soccer. He says he was thrilled to join his hometown team and didn’t see the chance to wear the 10 coming.
“I didn’t ask for it. It was an honor when Donovan told me about it, especially from him being the greatest number 10 in U.S. history, it’s just an honor,” says Guido.
Donovan wore the 10 while scoring more points than anyone in MLS or USMNT history. He, as well as anyone, understands the importance of the number and had a set of very specific criteria for the man who would get it.
“One, it has to be a really high-quality human being. That matters to me and important to our club. Two, it helps if you play that position naturally, which is what Guido plays. It’s his position. Three, he’s from San Diego. He’s from Chula Vista so it’s going to mean more to him than it would some foreign player or someone from a different part of the country. Four, you have to be a good soccer player. Guido is a great soccer player. His teammates love him and he makes us better. So, for me it was a no-brainer.”
What all those great number 10’s have in common is they won championships. That’s something Guido and Loyal SC have a real shot at in 2021. San Diego’s regular season schedule is expected to be announced soon.