Have you ever wondered why certain players wear certain numbers on their jerseys? In recreational sports we got to choose our favorite number or the one that we thought was ‘cool’ to be on the back of our jerseys, but for the professionals it’s a little different. Although some players have built their brand around a certain number, most of the time the number correlates to the position of the player. Players do often get to pick their own number usually ranging from 1 to 99 - with most players choosing the lower numbers - but sometimes their number is chosen based on the position they play. They usually keep their numbers from season to season, but they can change it if a new one becomes available. Some jerseys have more significance than others and some numbers have become associated with iconic players. If you’re interested in learning more about what some of the major numbers represent, continue scrolling!
Number 1: The Goalkeeper
The number one jersey is more often than not reserved for the goalkeeper. The number has been associated with this position throughout history and it’s a tradition that’s still followed today. They’re the first player to be written down on the starting lineup sheet and the first player selected to start the match, making them the perfect fit to represent the number ‘1’ jersey.
Number 2 & 3: The Right and Left Backs
Moving up into the position above the goalkeeper, the left and right backs used to be commonly represented by the number ‘2’ and ‘3’ jerseys. Now, these numbers are much less common in representing the position of the player because of the different formations in the modern-day game. Whether it be a more defensive fullback position or a wider position, it became common that these players would wear the number ‘2’ or ‘3’ jerseys.
Number 4 & 5: The Center Backs
As the game evolved and different formations were adopted, the numbers ‘4’ and ‘5’ started to represent players with defensive duties. Still commonly associated with the center back positions, there have been many iconic players including Virgil van Dijk and Segio Busquets who have represented the ‘4’ and ‘5’ in these positions.
Number 6 & 8: The Defensive and Center Midfielder
The number ‘6’ jersey often refers to the defensive midfielder whose job is to protect the backline, retain the ball, and recycle possession if needed. The player who drops back to sit next to them is number ‘8’, who some refer to as the box-to-box midfielder. The number ‘8’ has been associated with some of history’s most memorable players including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and Paul Scholes.
Number 7 & 11: The Wingers
Deployed on either the far right or left forward positions, these players are set up for scoring opportunities from the sides of the pitch. Most commonly associated with the central midfield or the forward, the number ‘7’ is also one of the most iconic numbers in soccer. Players who are strong representatives of speed, skill, and agility often home the number seven jersey. The most well-known would be Cristiano Ronaldo who has become a popular figure to emerge with the number ‘7’, and has notably been nicknamed “CR7” based on being an iconic number ‘7’ player.
Number 9 & 10: The Forwards
The player with the number ‘9’ jersey has been known to be on the hunt for goals. As the striker, they stay the highest up on the pitch at all times, meanwhile the number ‘10’ drops just a bit deeper to create chances for the striker to score. This is how the number ‘10’ player has become well-known as the playmaker and the visionary with creative abilities. Lionel Messi is most well-known for representing the number ‘10’ jersey while playing for Argentina and Barcelona. Strikers, including Erling Haaland, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski, all wear the number ‘9’ jersey for their league team!
There are soccer players and fans across the world who have created significant meanings behind specific jersey numbers. Some teams even retire a number to show their gratitude for the player’s achievements while wearing that number on the pitch. Some numbers contribute to traditions, symbolism, or even the identity of individual players, but either way everyone has their own meaning behind their favorite number.
If you want to honor your favorite player, head to SoccerCards.ca and get your very own signed jersey! Whether your favorite player is Messi, Ronaldo, Gerrard, or Haaland, you can show off your favorite jersey number with one of your own.
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