10 of the stupidest shirt numbers ever

Some shirt numbers are iconic. Others aren't; random figures chosen for superstitious, egotistical or downright ludicrous reasons. And there's been a few – the latest, central midfielder Jonathan de Guzman's desire to wear the No.1 shirt at new club Chievo
1 of 10

0: Hicham Zerouali, Aberdeen

In certain teams the No.10 shirt, as worn by Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, can feel a little heavier than the Dri-Fit material it's constructed from, simply because of the historical connotations of its greatest wearers. Likewise, numbers 9, 7, and 14. 

But then there are the other digits, like... er, 0?

Morocco international Zerouali had a fairly unremarkable three years at Aberdeen (1999-2002), scoring 11 goals in 37 appearances, including a hat-trick against Dundee. Still, in the club shop he was the standout figure thanks to his choice of squad number. 

Having been nicknamed both 'The Moroccan Magic' and 'Zero', Zerouali decided to have the latter printed on the back of his shirt – the first player in Scotland to do so – though the move proved controversial. The following season, the Scottish Premier League banned the squad digit. Tragically, 'Zero' was later killed in a car crash in 2004.

1: Edgar Davids, Barnet

The former Champions League winner with Ajax began life as Barnet player-manager in the same way he'd set on opposing players during his career: with a mixture of panache and brutality. His first five appearances brought cards in every game, both red and yellow. In an equally unusual move, Davids then announced he was taking the No.1 shirt from keeper Graham Stack and giving it to himself. "This is my number for the season," he said. "I am going to start this trend."  

Davids was hardly a trailblazer, however: Stuart Balmer (Charlton), Ruud Geels (Holland, 1974), and Ossie Ardiles (Argentina, 1978) had all worn the shirt before him. 

2: Ossie Ardiles, Argentina

Talking of Ardiles and Argentina, the diminutive Spurs playmaker also wore the No.2 shirt during the 1978 World Cup finals.

"The reason for it was that there were a lot of arguments over which shirts people wanted to wear," says Ardiles. "So [Argentina manager] Cesar Menotti decided to do it in alphabetical order, which was why the No.1 shirt in 1978 went to Norberto Alonso." 
Special players were exempt, however. In 1982 Diego Maradona, who should have worn unlucky 13, was given the No.10 shirt. "Menotti must have made that decision," continued Ossie. "As if by magic, Mario Kempes also got the No.10 shirt in 1978, so maybe Menotti did something there too."

10: William Gallas, Arsenal

The No.10 shirt is hardly first-choice shirt for a centre-half, albeit a pretty good one. But when Gallas signed for Arsenal from London rivals Chelsea in 2006, he was given the digits previously owned by playmaker Dennis Bergkamp. 

"No.3 was uncomfortable for him and I had given the rest of the numbers out," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "In the end I thought it might be a good idea to give the No.10 to a defender, because a striker would suffer a lot with the comparison with Dennis. At first I was reluctant to give Dennis's number out, and especially to a defender, but overall I think it's better that way."

16: Paulo Futre, West Ham

When Portuguese star Futre learned he would have to wear the No.16 shirt at West Ham, rather than his preferred No.10, he brought in a legal team to resolve the issue.

Harry Redknapp, in his autobiography Always Managing, wrote: "Eddie Gillam, our trainer, had given him the No.16 shirt and got it thrown back in his face (before the first game of the season against Arsenal). Next thing, Paulo was in my face, too. 'Futre 10, not 16,' he said. ‘Eusebio 10, Maradona 10, Pele 10; Futre 10, not f***ing 16.’
"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, Paulo, off you go,’ I said. And he did.
"The following Monday, Paulo came back in with his team of lawyers to negotiate for the No.10 shirt."
He then paid £100,000 to secure it.

52: Nicklas Bendtner, Arsenal

The former Arsenal striker has always been an awkward employee. Once fined and banned for flashing a sponsored pair of pants during a Euro 2012 game with Denmark, he later caused some irritation at the Emirates when he decided on a last-minute change of squad number in 2009/10 from 26 to 52. 

"I chose to move to 52 because it’s a special number to me personally, and I hope that it brings me good luck for the new season. I appreciate that a good number of fans have bought their kits for 2009/10 already with names and numbers printed up so I’d like to personally cover the cost of replacing anyone’s shirt that has my previous number." 
Given the team at the time included Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, it's unlikely Bendtner would have had to fork out too much.

69: Bixente Lizarazu, Bayern Munich

Oo-er missus! Having embarked on his second spell at Bayern Munich in 2005, full-back Lizarazu opted to take the No.69.

After much hand-wringing among fans, Frenchman Lizarazu later claimed 69 had been a number with lucky connotations. Why? Well, he weighed 69kg, had been born in1969, and was 169cm tall. So his decision had nothing to do with getting a cheap laugh in the dressing room. Honest.

80: Ronaldinho, Milan

When the toothy Brazilian maestro signed for Milan in 2008, it was decided he would wear the No.80 rather than his favoured No.10. The reason had been initially political. According to Milan's vice president Adriano Galliani, Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf already occupied that shirt. "We've never asked a player to give up his number and we won't do it this time," said Galliani.

Ronaldinho plumped for 80 because it was the year of his birth. His choice then began a mini-trend at the San Siro, with Mathieu Flamini (84) and Andriy Shevchenko (76) following suit.

1+8: Ivan Zamorano, Inter Milan

Talk about getting your knickers in a twist over a shirt number. When Chilean striker Zamorano signed for Inter from Real Madrid in 1996 he wore the No.9, until 1998 when the Divine Ponytail himself, Roberto Baggio, arrived and demanded the No.10. Problem was, Ronaldo already had it. 

And so the drama began. The Brazilian was then given the No.9, leaving Zamorano to come up with a creative twist on the numbering system.
He took the 18 shirt and addd a '+' sign in the middle, thus creating a simple maths equation that equalled nine. Carol Vorderman would have been chuffed. The kit man less so.

(Sorry, we know this isn't his No.88 shirt. The following season he picked 77.)

88: Gianluigi Buffon, Parma

The Italian shot-stopper caused a right fuss when he opted to wear the 88 shirt in 2000. At first his choice seemed innocuous enough, though suddenly, Italy's Jewish community were outraged.

The number, they explained, was a neo-Nazi symbol; 'H' is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so putting two together makes 'HH', or, more chillingly, 'Heil Hitler'.

Buffon was quick to defend his actions. "I have chosen 88 because it reminds me of four balls," he said. "And in Italy we all know what it means to have balls: strength and determination. And this season I will have to have balls to get back my place in the Italy team.
"At first I didn't choose 88. I wanted 00 but the league told me that was impossible. I also considered 01 but that was not considered a proper number. I liked 01 because it was the number on the General Lee car in the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard."
Goalkeepers: nutbars.



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