5 famous footballers with weird jersey numbers

Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League
Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League
Sai Teja

Footballers have had a long history of wearing shirt numbers that stand out from the crowd. Even renowned stars from the past and present have donned some of the strangest shirt numbers over the years, such as William Gallas wearing the number ten shirt while at Arsenal, or UEFA Euro 2016 winner Rui Patricio who currently wears the number 11 shirt for Wolves.

Vitor Baia, who won the 2004 UEFA Champions League with FC Porto, was one of the first footballers to don the number 99. It is the highest number that players are allowed to wear under the current rules established by FIFA.

UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, First Leg: FC Porto v Lyon
UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, First Leg: FC Porto v Lyon

On the other end of the spectrum, Hicham Zerouali, the Moroccan sensation who played in Scotland, opted for the number zero on his shirt signifying the first four letters of his last name. Zerouali's number went on to be banned from English and Scottish football after his unfortunate demise in 2004.

Ivan Zamorano also made a rather strange choice as he opted for the number 18 shirt and added a + symbol between the 1 and 8 after losing out on his number nine shirt at Inter.

Famous footballers do tend to opt for special numbers such as Cristiano Ronaldo's iconic number seven or Leo Messi's number ten, but other high-profile names chose to go a different way. On that note, here is a look at some famous footballers who have strange shirt numbers.

#5 Robinho | #70, AC Milan

Udinese Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A
Udinese Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A

Robinho was one of the first big-money signings made by Manchester City after their takeover in 2008. The Brazilian, who had the honour of donning the number ten shirt won previously by Luis Figo at Real Madrid, wore the same number at City but his career came to a standstill at the Etihad. Upon his move to AC Milan, his preferred number was occupied by club legend Clarence Seedorf at the time, with Alexander Pato donning the number seven.

With both iconic numbers being occupied, Robinho rather strangely opted for the shirt number 70. It was one among a host of weird shirt numbers in the side including Antonio Cassano's 99, Stephan El Shaarawy's 92, and so on. After two years, 85 games, and 25 goals with 70 on his shirt, Robinho ultimately switched to Pato's old number seven after he moved to number nine.

#4 Bixente Lizarazu | #69, Bayern Munich

Bixente Lizarazu
Bixente Lizarazu

French full-back Bixente Lizarazu is undoubtedly one of the greatest defenders to ever play for Bayern Munich and the French national side. The left-back, who appeared over 200 times for French side Bordeaux, he moved to Bavaria and predominantly wore the number three shirt after wearing #11 in his first season back in 1997/98.

During his second spell with the club after returning from Olympique Marseille in 2005, Lizarazu raised eyebrows when he opted for the shirt number 69 as his number three shirt was occupied by Brazilian legend Lucio. Lizarazu revealed that the reason for his strange choice is that he was born in 1969, his height was 1.69m and he weighed 69kg. The World Cup winner wore this shirt number for 46 of his 273 appearances for Bayern Munich.

Also read: Top 10 strikers in the world this season (2020/21)

#3 Gianluigi Buffon | #88 at Parma, #77 at Parma and Juventus

Gianluigi Buffon of Parma
Gianluigi Buffon of Parma

Footballers choosing strange numbers has always been a source of amusement, but in some cases such as Gigi Buffon's, it was a matter of huge controversy. Coming through the ranks at Parma, he had already won the numbers 12, 28, and then one.

After the 1999/00 season, the Italian legend switched from Parma's number one shirt to wearing 88, which was met with widespread criticism. 88 was often associated with Neo-Nazis at the time, leading to much controversy and accusations regarding Buffon's political stance. Enraged by these accusations, Buffon famously called for a press conference to clarify why he chose the number 88 shirt. He explained;

"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. And this season I will have to have balls to get back my place in the Italy team."

He was ultimately forced to change his number and eventually donned number 77 as he was born in the year 1977, and his change sparked the trend of players' shirts representing their birth years in Italy. Incidentially, Buffon still wears 77 to this day during his second spell with Juventus after turning down Wojciech Szczesny's offer of wearing his famous number one shirt again.

#2 Ronaldinho | #80, AC Milan

AC Milan v Lecce - Serie A
AC Milan v Lecce - Serie A

Ronaldinho had already established himself as one of the best players in world football after his spell at Barcelona, during which he helped the Blaugrana win their first LaLiga title of the century and ended their 14-year-wait for the UCL. After an all-conquering five years at the Nou Camp, the 2005 Ballon d'Or winner moved to AC Milan in 2008 after Pep Guardiola's appointment at the club.

While he donned the number ten shirt for six successive campaigns before his San Siro stint, Ronaldinho could not get his hands on the iconic number once again due to long-serving club legend Clarence Seeforf. The Brazilian then opted for shirt number 80, signifying the year of his birth, 1980. Ronaldinho played 95 times for the Rossoneri with this shirt number, scoring 26 and setting up a further 26.

AC Milan also signed Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal and Andriy Shevchenko from Chelsea in the same window as Ronaldinho who took up 84 and 76 respectively for the same reason as they were born in 1984 and 1976.

#1 Trent Alexander-Arnold | #66, Liverpool

Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League
Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League

173 senior appearances. Two UCL finals. One Premier League. And one iconic shirt number.

Among the players currently active at the highest level of football, not many have a stranger shirt number than Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Reds' academy product broke onto the scene and and quickly established himself as one of the best right-backs in world football. While many academy players generally have higher numbers before moving onto conventional first-team numbers, Alexander-Arnold has chosen to keep wearing the shirt number 66.

It was later revealed that there was no real significance regarding the number at all as it was Lee Radcliffe, Liverpool's kit management coordinator, who assigned the shirt to the Englishman when he broke into the first team. He explained;

"When we get any young lads that come down from the academy, we always deliberately try to give them a high-ish number. We don't like to give them a low number in case they sort of think they've made it straight away, if you know what I mean."
"When you see him now lifting trophies and celebrating with No.66 on the back, it's a weird feeling and I can't really describe it. It's weird to see such a high number and for someone to be happy with it!"

Radcliffe also revealed that the 22-year-old never asked for a change in shirt number, saying that he had developed an attachment to the number 66.

Also read: 5 Players who you didn't know played with Cristiano Ronaldo

Edited by Sai Teja
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