Emile Smith Rowe was finally confirmed as Arsenal’s new number 10 when his new contract was announced, so can the 20-year-old outshine some truly great names to have worn the number 10 shirt before him?
With a big number, comes big expectations, and few shirts carry more weight than the number 10 at Arsenal.
Emile Smith Rowe asked for it and few would argue he has not earned it.
“Everyone knows that No 10 is a big shirt and it is definitely a big position as well. So I’m buzzing to be honest, I can’t wait to get on the pitch,” Smith Rowe told Arsenal.com.
“It’s really special – I can’t explain the feeling when I found out. I’ve not really got the words to explain it right now! But yeah, I’m really happy.
“The legends that have played here and have worn the shirt… it’s a bit too much right now but I’m sure I will calm down after a while!
“When I was younger I used to watch Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was going through the academy Mesut Ozil was here as well and getting the opportunity to train with him and play with him as well was unbelievable. I just want to keep working hard and hopefully I can play like them and replicate what they’ve done.”
At just 20, Smith Rowe has his whole career ahead of him and wants to play it all out with the Arsenal number 10 on his back. Unlike so many others, Smith Rowe dreams of being a one-club man. In 2020, Smith Rowe said, “My dream is to become a legend here, I can see myself being a one-club man if everything works out.” It’s a sentiment he has repeated since.
At the club since he was nine, and with hopefully at least 14 years ahead of him, should Smith Rowe fulfil his dream, he would become Arsenal’s longest-ever serving player. His name, by right, would also enter the Arsenal history books as one of the first team’s longest serving players. Only four players would be above him on that table, Lee Dixon, George Armstrong, Tony Adams, and David O’Leary, and who would argue they aren’t club greats?
But, of course, it’s not all about longevity, although if you hang around somewhere long enough, something good is bound to happen, eventually.
When people think about the Arsenal number 10 shirt, Dennis Bergkamp is the player who inevitably springs to mind.
Bergkamp had both longevity AND achievement, being integral the Wenger’s greatest sides and, of course, one of the Invincibles. He was at Arsenal for 11 years, and there isn’t much difference between that and 14, meaning Smith Rowe will have to pull of something pretty special to move above the Dutchman.
A big ask, but certainly not one that is beyond Smith Rowe. Bergkamp was 26 when he arrived at Arsenal, in his prime when footballers tend to enjoy their best years. Smith Rowe is still only 20.
Emile Smith Rowe really could become Arsenal’s greatest ever number 10 and one of the club’s most loyal players in history who could realistically spend a quarter of a decade as a Gunner.
Arsenal’s number 10s
- Jimmy Bloomfield (57/58)
- Geoff Strong (63/64)
- George Eastham (62/63 – 65/66)
- Colin Addison (66/67)
- Peter Simpson (67/68)
- Jon Sammels (66/67 – 68/69)
- David Court (65/66 – 68/69)
- Eddie Kelly (69/70)
- Bob Gould (67/68 – 69/70)
- George Graham (68/69 – 69/70)
- John Radford (65/66 – 71/72)
- Ray Kennedy (70/71 – 73/74)
- Charlie George (69/70 – 74/75)
- Brian Kidd (74/75 – 75/76)
- John Devine (78/79)
- Frank Stapleton (76/77 – 78/79)
- David Price (78/79 – 79/80)
- John Hollins (79/80)
- Steve Gatting (78/79 – 80/81)
- Peter Nicholas (81/82)
- Paul Davis (81/82)
- Stewart Robson (81/82 – 82/83)
- Brian McDermott (80/81 – 82/83)
- Raphael Meade (84/85)
- Tony Woodcock (82/83 – 85/86)
- Niall Quinn (85/86)
- Ian Allinson (86/87)
- Charlie Nicholas (83/84 – 86/87)
- Martin Hayes (87/88)
- Kevin Richardson (87/88)
- Steve Bould (88/89)
- Gus Caesar (89/90)
- Anders Limpar (90/91)
- Alan Smith (90/91)
- Perry Groves (86/87 – 91/92)
- Kevin Campbell (91/92 – 93/94)
- Ian Selley (94/95)
- Paul Merson (88/89 – 96/97)
- Dennis Bergkamp (95/96 – 05/06)
- William Gallas (06/07 – 09/10)
- Robin van Persie (10/11 – 11/12)
- Jack Wilshere (12/13 – 17/18)
- Mesut Özil (18/19 – 19/20)
- Emile Smith Rowe, (21/22 – )