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Anyone who's played the game and managed to get a specific shirt number for a run of games will be able to associate with this. Once you've got it, you don't want to let it go. So it's good to discover that even some of the top players in the world have had to swap their shirt number when moving to a new club (although we should pity the poor sods like LA Galaxy's Quavas Kirk, who not only lost his place in the team, but also his shirt number, when some trumped up superstar joined his club's ranks).

If you know of any other famous, or unusual, shirt numbers then send us an email to: info@midfielddynamo.com


Famous No.6's
Daniel Passarella (Argentina) When the Argentinian FA announced in 1986 that they would be doing a repeat of 1982 and ordering the shirt numbers alphabetically, apart from Diego Maradona who would swap again to number 10, captain Passarella and Real Madrid striker Jorge Valdano pulled rank and insisted on keeping their own numbers too, so Passarella kept his favoured number 6 and Valdano wore 11.
Famous No.7's
Eric Cantona (Man Utd) Best known at Old Trafford with a number 7 on his back, Cantona actually started his career at Man Utd in 1992 with the number 12 shirt. However, when Bryan Robson retired in 1994 he snatched it off and never looked back, just like David Beckham did three years later when Cantona retired.
Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool) It's crazy to think that somne of Liverpool's supporters were worried that Dalglish might not be good enough to grace the coveted number 7 shirt that Kevin Keegan had vacated in 1977 on his transfer to Hamburg. They were wrong, as King Kenny smashed home nearly a goal every other game for them over the course of the next decade.
Raul (Real Madrid) The Bernabeu favourite was the reason why David Beckham had to pick a new shirt number.
Famous No.10's
Diego Maradona (Argentina and Napoli) The number 10 shirt is synonymous with playmakers, so who better to don one than the greatest footballer of modern times. After he'd retired it almost became a burden to the next player given the number 10 shirt, such were the expectations and the immediate 'next Maradona' tag. Before the 2002 World Cup the Argentinian Football Federation sent FIFA their 23 man squad list with numbers one to 24, leaving out number 10 in honour of the great man. FIFA didn't play ball though and ordered them to re-do it, with Ariel Ortega eventually being given the honour of wearing number 10.
Famous No.11's
Jorge Valdano (Argentina) When the Argentinian FA announced in 1986 that they would be doing a repeat of 1982 and ordering the shirt numbers alphabetically, apart from Diego Maradona who would swap again to number 10, Real Madrid striker Valdano and captain Daniel Passarella pulled rank and insisted on keeping their own numbers too, so Passarella kept his favoured number 6 and Valdano wore 11, rather than the number 21 that he was originally pencilled in for.
Famous No.13's
Eusebio (Portugal)
Eusebio 13
Unable to play international football for his native Mozambique, the great Eusebio claimed the number 13 shirt for Portugal instead, scoring a record 41 goals in just 64 games. The Black Panther's goal-scoring exploits for Befica weren't too bad either - an astonishing 727 goals in 715 matches, and no, that's not a typing mistake.
Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich, West Germany) The only thing unlucky about number 13 was the opposition defence, as der Bomber bagged hatfuls of goals whilst wearing the number.
Famous No.14's
Johann Cruyff (Ajax, Holland)
Cruyff 14
Up until 1970 Cruyff wore the number 9 shirt for Ajax, but when he missed a number of games through injury Gerrie Muhren started to wear the shirt in his absence. When Cruyff returned in a game against PSV he wore shirt number 14, and rather than demanding his old number back from Muhren he stuck with 14 and even started wearing it with the national team.
Famous No.20's
Roberto Dynamite (Brazil) Great name. Great Player. A goal-scoring legend for Vasco da Gama, Dynamite wore the number 20 shirt for Brazil at the 1978 and 1982 World Cup's, and the latter still begs the question as to why he wasn't picked ahead of the infamous Serginho.
Famous No.23's
David Beckham (Real Madrid, LA Galaxy) Beckham wore number 7 at Manchester United but when he transferred to Real Madrid in 2003 Raul was holder of the shirt, and wasn't about to offer it to him. It's widely reported that Beckham chose number 23 because he was a big fan of basketball legend Michael Jordan (he wore number 23 with the Chicago Bulls), but the simple reason is that the only choice he was offered was between shirt number 4 and shirt number 23. When Beckham moved to LA Galaxy in 2007 he decided to keep the number, forcing young winger Quavas Kirk to reluctantly hand it over (poor old Kirk swapped to no. 15, which was no compensation at all, they could at least have handed him something decent, like number 7).
Famous No.39's
Nicolas Anelka (Man City, Fenerbahce, Boton, Chelsea) Prior to his move to Man City in 2002, Anelka had worn the number 9 jersey. However, when he arrived at Maine Road Paulo Wanchope had already laid claim to it and so Anelka opted for 39. Why 39 ? Various ideas about it being connected to the number of the suburb he came from, or that he just wanted to have the number 9 in there somewhere. It proved to be quite a canny move as the notoriously sulky Frenchman has made it into his own little brand and now has it as part of his contract negotiations when discussing his annual transfer to a new club.
Famous No.90's
Michael Foot (Plymouth Argyle) Back in 2003 the Pilgrims registered the former Labour Party leader as a player and handed him the number 90 shirt, in honour of his 90th birthday. It made him the oldest registered player in English football history. He didn't actually get to play, but remained a fan.


Last Updated: July 31 2008

Contributors: Darren Shaw, Phil Titley, Peter Walker.