Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City may have won lots of trophies, but they have also handed out some of the most shocking squad numbers in the history of football.
Football is at its best when pure, but long gone are the days when players turned out in the traditional No.1-No.11 shirts, when you knew just where each player would be playing before they stepped onto the field.
Since players were given permanent squad numbers in 1993, all kinds of numbers have been dished out, from the iconic to the downright bizarre.
We’ve taken a look back at some of the real stinkers, which make purists like us wince at the mere thought of seeing the player step out onto the field wearing a number that categorically does not reflect the position in which they are playing.
Following Raheem Sterling’s move to Chelsea, Cancelo has eschewed his old No.27 in favour of the No.7 on his back.
“This is a special number for me,” he told Manchester City’s official site. “It’s my mother’s birthday and it’s also her favourite number.
“I decided to choose this number because I think it brings me luck and I hope it brings luck to the team too, so this year we can win many titles.
You can win all the titles you want, Joao, but you’re still a left-back wearing a No.7 shirt.
Player-manager, self-appointed captain, why wouldn’t Davids hand himself the No.1 shirt at Barnet?
“I am going to start this trend,” he said before getting sent off three times in the first eight games of the season, announcing he would not attend any away games which required an overnight stay and eventually leaving the club in January.
When Edgar Davids managed Barnet…made himself captain…gave himself the number 1 shirt…and then got 3 red cards in 6 games. 😂👏 pic.twitter.com/0ddlbyB5R0
— Football Banter (@FbBanterPage) August 24, 2017
Ever heard of the ‘power of three’ concept? Asamoah Gyan has…
“Three is the shirt I wore as a teenager in Ghana,” he has said about his favourite number. “It is a powerful number.
“If you are lifting something heavy, you count to three before you lift. If you want to warn someone, you warn them once, then twice and the third time you take action.”
When Gallas arrived at Arsenal, Alex Hleb already had dibs on his favoured No.13 shirt, but rather than ask him to swap, the Frenchman’s eyes lit up.
Apparently a midfielder in his younger days, Gallas used to wear No.10, but never donned the shirt in his professional days… until he joined the Gunners.
They were reportedly reluctant as it had been vacant since Dennis Bergkamp’s departure. It’s safe to say the two players have very different legacies in north London.
READ: 9 pairs of team-mates who hated each other ft. Man Utd, Liverpool & Arsenal
In a disappointing turn of events, there’s absolutely nothing interesting in this tale, Johnson simply took the No.8 because it was the only decent number available.
But the gaffer is a Stoke fan and it drove him mental, so it’s quite funny really.
Zamorano was the No.9 at Inter, but after Ronaldo’s arrival, he was landed with a problem.
Not to be prevented from being a proper No.9, what did he do? Yep, picked No.18 and planted a + sign in between the numbers. Genius. Utterly ridiculous, but genius.
READ: Ivan ‘Bam Bam’ Zamorano: A man so committed to No.9 he wore 1+8
In the AFC, players have to keep the same numbers throughout qualifying campaigns for the World Cup. Tommy Oar’s favourite No.11 was taken when the youngster made his Socceroos debut, so he plumped for 11 squared… 121.
It’s definitely at this point that it is officially too far. Us supporters shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of sh*t.
Remember that time Tommy Oar wore 121 in an international match? We do!! #Socceroos pic.twitter.com/c3HBUXIMKF
— Out of Our A-League (@outofouraleague) June 8, 2014
It was a hotly debated point in the office, but Zinedine Zidane just about gets away with wearing the No.5 shirt, because he’s Zinedine Zidane. Milan Baros is not Zinedine Zidane.
The fact he was allowed to lift the Champions League trophy in this abomination is just disgusting.
Futre was preparing for his first appearance for West Ham when a coach handed him the No.16 shirt, and to say he wasn’t happy would be an understatement.
“Futre 10, not 16,” he said, according to Harry Redknapp. “Eusebio 10, Maradona 10, Pele 10; Futre 10, not f*cking 16.”
Redknapp attempted to calm the player down. “I tried to be firm. ‘Paulo, put your shirt on, get changed, please, we have a big game. If you don’t want to wear it, off you go,’ I said. And he did.”
Next thing he knew, Redknapp was faced with a team of lawyers, who were brought in to negotiate Futre being given the No.10 shirt. Eventually, John Moncur agreed to let him take it in exchange for two weeks in Futre’s villa in the Algarve.
‘West Ham’s Paulo Futre once stormed out of Highbury into a taxi after refusing to wear No16’
— A Football Archive* (@FootballArchive) March 7, 2016
Apparently nicknamed ‘Daddy Cool’ in South Wales, when asked why he chose No.2 upon his return to Swansea, he said: “It’s the second time I am at the club, hence I wanted to wear No.2, and I want to achieve more for the team.”
Tenuous, to say the least.
Perhaps the most mentally scarring of the lot is the former Chelsea defender turning out in the No.9 shirt.
After 20 easily forgettable appearances, he was shipped out to Sevilla, leaving only memories of his choice of squad number and literally nothing else.
Boulahrouz handed the No.9 shirt to none other than Steven James Sidwell. The mind boggles.
READ: Ranking every player to wear No.9 for Chelsea in the Premier League
When your nickname is Zero, what number could you possibly choose? Thankfully for all of us, the Scottish and English FAs were quick to ban it.
Remember when Hicham Zerouali wore #0 for Aberdeen? pic.twitter.com/VShJ8zO2Tv
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) December 28, 2016
The No.6 shirt is very debatable. We reckon it’s acceptable either as a centre-back or a holding midfielder, or even a left-back if you’re South American. But certainly not if you’re a pacy attacker.
Step forward Huckerby, who scored 50 goals in five years at Norwich City, despite wearing a real shocker of a shirt number. Not cool.
To top things off, we’ll just leave this here. It explains itself…
Imagine signing a player called Mambo and not giving him the number 5 shirt. Poor form from Ebbsfleet United. pic.twitter.com/ZFjVGlXRIV
— Joe (@RedAndWhite11) November 11, 2017
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