This is a piece I did for CAMPO RETRO in June. I hope you enjoy reading it.
The number 10 shirt is so historic within the North London based club that White Hart Lane has its own Number 10 Club lounge to celebrate the legends behind the sacred double digits.
Ask any Spurs fan to name the king of the number 10 shirt and they’ll say Jimmy Greaves. Greaves is the clubs record goal scorer with a massive 266 goals. The only player in the 21st century to come close to this record is Jermain Defoe (2004-13) with 143 goals. Greaves signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1961 for £99,999. The fact that this fee was paid was to relieve the striker from any pressure of being the first British player to cost £100,000. Greaves joined the Lilywhite’s as they became the first English club in the 20th century to win the First Division and the FA Cup (doing the double).
The striker who had previously played at Chelsea and AC Milan got off to a flying, yes literally flying start for Spurs as he scored a hat-trick on his Tottenham debut which included a flying scissor kick. The boys from White Hart Lane went onto win this game against Blackpool 5-2. In his first season at the club Greaves recorded an astonishing 30 goals in 31 appearances (all competitions). During his time at the lane he scored 15 hat-tricks. The 5ft 8 striker carried his top class performances onto the international field scoring 44 goals in 57 appearances for England.
Not all legendary number 10’s have been strikers at Spurs. Previous England manager, Glenn Hoddle who has been recognised as one of the most gifted players to come out of England wore the special number 10 during his 12 year spell with Tottenham. Hoddle made over 375 appearances scoring over 85 goals whilst playing his trade at White Hart Lane.
Hoddle joined Spurs as an apprentice and overcame a number of injuries in order to go onto record a brilliant footballing career. During his first start for Spurs in the First Division (1976) Hoddle managed to strike past respected England and Stoke goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Despite the club being related to the Second division in the 1976/77 season Hoddle played a vital part in their return to the top flight in the first attempt. Keith Burkinshaw played a major part in the midfielder’s career as Hoddle is said to have flourished under the management of the General. In 1979/80 Hoddle was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year. This was just the start of many honours the Englishman would be awarded during a very successful career. These honours include a UEFA Cup (1984), Two FA Cups (1981 and 1982), and five separate appearances in the First Division PFA Team of the Year.
Now I will look back at another iconic English striker, Gary Lineker. The striker signed for Spurs in 1989 from Spanish giants Barcelona. Lineker scored a total of 67 goals in 105 league games whilst performing in the white of Tottenham Hotspur. This included a tally of 24 goals during the 1989/90 season where he finished as the First Divisions’ top scorer. The England international won the 1991 FA Cup vs Nottingham Forest in the final but had a game to forget as he had a goal disallowed for offside and had his penalty saved by Mark Crossley. Lineker managed to get second top goal scorer with 28 goals behind rival striker Ian Wright who scored 29 goals. Whilst in an England shirt Gary Lineker recorded 48 goals during his 80 caps.
Other iconic players who have had the famous number 10 on their shirt includes Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Keane.
Darren Bent didn’t live up to his £16.5 million fee when he signed terms with Tottenham in 2007 and hasn’t got the title of being a legend of the 10 shirt. During his time at Spurs Bent managed to get his 100th career goal in a 4-0 win over West Ham he finished the season with 8 goals from 36 appearances. Not all of his time at White Hart Lane was full of bad form as he was able to score his first goal of the 2008/09 season with a goal in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. He got his first competitive hat-trick against Dinamo Zagreb and followed this up after netting twice against Manchester City in a 2-1 victory.
The main reason Spurs fans remember Bent’s name is from a certain match against Portsmouth. Bent found himself in front of an open goal during the final minutes but somehow cracked under the pressure. Harry Redknapp is quoted to have said “You will never get a better chance to win a match than that. My missus could have scored that one”. Bent was eventually sold to Sunderland in July 2009 and became a forgotten name of White Hart Lane.