Traditionally, players take shirt numbers from 1 to 30, with the first preference going for the 1-11 range. This is not always the case though and we thought to have a look at some of the unusual number selections some players have opted for. Let us know in the comments box below if you’ve seen some other unusual shirt numbers!
11. Edgar Davids – Barnet’s number 1
Dutch legendary midfielder Edgar Davids opted for the number 1 shirt when he came out of retirement to play and manage English League Two club Barnet. When asked about his choice of shirt number, Davids said: “That is my number for the season. I am going to start this trend.”
10. Jonathan de Guzman – Chievo’s number 1
Dutch midfielder Jonathan de Guzman was inspired by his fellow countryman Davids when he transferred to Chievo from Napoli.
9. Mario Balotelli – Milan’s number 45
“When I first played three or four games with Inter Milan, when I was young, I had #45 because the numbers for young players were from 36 to 50. I took 45 because I was joking that four plus five is nine – and I scored in all four games. It brings me luck and that’s why I’ve always kept 45.”
Balotelli has worn his lucky ’45’ shirt at Inter, Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool. He currently plays for French Ligue 1 side, OGC Nice, where he has been given the number 9 shirt, as French Ligue 1 rules do not allow players to be given numbers higher than 30. No more addition required to hit number 9 now Mario!
8. Khalid Boulahrouz – Chelsea’s number 9
Former Chelsea defender Boulahrouz was handed the number 9 shirt upon arriving at Stamford Bridge, apparently because it was one of the numbers not yet allocated to any other player.
7. Osvaldo Ardiles – Argentina’s number 1
Tottenham Hotspur legendary midfielder Osvaldo ‘Ossie’ Ardiles, wore the number 1 shirt when he represented Argentina in the 1982 World Cup. The reason for such numbering choice was because Argentina had been allocating shirt numbers alphabetically, making an exception only for Diego Maradona, who wore his favoured number 10.
6. Derek Riordan – Hibernian’s number 01
The Scottish striker was given the number ’01’ shirt upon his return to Hibernian in 2008 as the number 10 shirt had already been allocated to Colin Nish. He eventually got the number 10 shirt the following season.
5. William Gallas – Arsenal’s number 10
Former Arsenal captain was handed the Gunners’ number 10 shirt which was formerly worn by the legend Dennis Bergkamp. When asked on why he opted for the number 10 shirt, Gallas responded: “When I arrived at Arsenal, I wanted to take no.13, the same number that I had at Chelsea. But it was already taken by Alexander Hleb. I have always respected the players who already had a shirt number and I couldn’t see myself asking him to give it to me, unlike certain players at Chelsea who wanted my no.13 but that’s another story. As there were no other available numbers that I liked, I asked for no.10. I thought maybe once in my professional football career I can get the no.10. When I was playing youth football, I was wearing no.10 because I was a midfielder at the time. Arsene took a bit of time to give to me, because it was previously worn by Bergkamp.”
4. Bixente Lizarazu – Bayern Munich’s number 69
Lizarazu wore the number 69 shirt at Bayern Munich, claiming his choice of shirt number was solely because he was born in 1969, weighed 69kg and his height was 1.69m. Any link to other reasons for choosing this number was entirely coincidental, or so he claimed.
3. Ivan Zamorano – Inter’s number 1+8
After four successful years at Real Madrid, Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano joined Inter in 1996, where he was initially handed the number 9 shirt. Brazilian legend Ronaldo, then teammate, was wearing the number 10 at the time. Upon Roberto Baggio’s arrival at the club, Ronaldo had to sacrifice his number 10 shirt to the Italian legend, with Ronaldo then opting for the number 9 shirt. Zamorano gave up his shirt only to take shirt number 1+8, and thus, mathematically remaining Inter’s number 9 striker!
2. Hicham Zerouali – Aberdeen’s number zero
Former Moroccan striker Zerouali was handed the number ‘0’ shirt at Aberdeen, in recognition of the nickname he was given by Abdereen fans. Hicham scored 13 goals for Aberdeen and his famous ‘zero’ shirt managed to do quite well with club merchandising too! Unfortunately, at the age of 27, Zerouali died in a tragic car accident in his home city of Rabat, Morocco.
1. Gianluigi Buffon – Parma’s number 88
In his early days, the now Juventus legend played for Parma, and opted for the number 88 shirt at the start of the 2000/01 campaign. The choice was heavily criticised by Italy’s Jewish community which pointed out that the figure is a Neo-Nazi symbol – the letter “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so “88” was seen as “HH”, or “Heil Hitler”. Buffon then called a press conference where he clarified the reason for his preferred shirt number. “I have chosen 88 because it reminds me of four balls and in Italy we all know what it means to have balls: strength and determination,” he said. “And this season I will have to have balls to get back my place in the Italy team.” Buffon eventually changed his shirt number to’77’ before becoming accustomed to wearing the number 1 shirt.