Top 7 Strangest Shirt Numbers
Attending a Europa League qualifier last night, I noticed that Hajduk Spilt’s tricky (and diving) little Ivorian winger Jean-Evrard Kouassi displayed the unusual number 77 on his shirt.
Intrigued at the reasoning behind it, a trawl of Google was inconclusive, unless I understood Croatian. However, here’s some other curious shirt numbers and the stories behind them.
Hicham Zerouali, 0
The late Moroccan striker landed at Aberdeen in the early Noughties and became the first player in Scottish history to wear the number 0 on his shirt, in honour of his nickname Zero.
The number was outlawed the following season by the Scottish Premier League but Zerouali went from zero to hero with Dons fans, and a memorial was held at Pittodrie when he died a couple of years after leaving the club.
Edgar Davids, 1
When the Dutch legend took over the reins as player-manager at Barnet, his record suggested it wouldn’t take much persuading that he was now ‘numero uno’ at the club.
However, just to reiterate the fact he decided to take the unusual step of patrolling central midfield with the number 1 emblazoned on his back.
It was certainly unusual in English football, but the likes of Ossie Ardiles for Argentina during the 1982 World Cup had already put themselves number one.
Upon joining AC Milan, Ronaldo had 99 problems, but being on the pitch ain’t one.
As he signed mid-season, his regular number 9 shirt was already taken by Filippo Inzaghi. The Brazilian striker had to deny that the symbolism was anything to do with his fondness for ice-cream, merely his love of the number 9.
Ivan Zamorano, 1 + 8
Ronaldo’s to blame for this one too. He claimed the number 9 shirt when joining Inter Milan leaving its previous incumbent, Zamorano, numberless.
The Chilean striker was eventually given the number 18 jersey but added a ‘+’ sign between the two numerals, in an unwitting ruse to become the first known “false number nine”.
Bixente Lizarazu, 69
The French left-back’s name proved a bit of a mouthful for commentators so it is somewhat apt he chose number 69 while at Bayern Munich.
He claimed it was because he was born in 1969, measured 169 cm and weighed 69 kg, despite salacious rumours to the contrary.
Gigi Buffon, 88
The veteran keeper sparked controversy when he decided to wear number 88 on his jersey at Parma.
The figure has connotations with neo-Nazism in Italy but Buffon claimed it reminded him of “four balls” and he needed “balls to win back his place” with the national side.
Bizarrely, his first preference had been 01 as it was the number on the General Lee car in the Dukes of Hazard, but it was not allowed by Italian authorities.
Rogério Ceni, 618
Unlike Buffon, the Brazilian keeper regularly wore 01 on the back of his shirt but reverted an even more unusual number for a one-off match.
Ceni became the first keeper to score 100 goals in his career and celebrated another milestone, his record 618th appearance for Sao Paulo by bearing this number on a special commemorative jersey.