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Five legends who wore the number 13 shirt

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final
Thomas Mueller has won the World Cup wearing number 13.
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Atharva Gosavi

In soccer, it is a common custom to see the best players of a team wearing the numbers assigned to their specific positions. Kit numbers like 7 and 10, which are reserved for attackers, are usually worn by the best players on the team.

On the contrary, numbers from 1 to 4 are usually reserved for defensive positions.

But, it seems a little weird when you hear that legendary players like Johan Cruyff and Thierry Henry preferring other numbers than the ones between 7 and 11 (Both wore number 14 shirts)

However, one number is feared to be greatly unlucky, not only in football, but around the globe.

You guessed right! Number 13 has always been thought to bring bad luck to those who use it. To top it all, the history of the number, since ancient times, does add concerns about it being ill-fated.

This certainly makes people superstitious about number 13. The belief of number 13 being unlucky is equally staunch in football. Football clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool have already retired the number from their ranks.

However, some players don't think on the same lines as others. They see it fit to wear a number 13 shirt, even though it is considered to be inauspicious. Let's have a look at them.


#5: Michael Ballack

Group A Germany v Poland - World Cup 2006
Michael Ballack wore number 13 for his entire career except in Kaiserslautern.

The whole football world is familiar with the German midfielder's love for the unlucky number 13 shirt. The retired midfielder wore it during his entire career with Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Germany.

It is only at Kaiserslautern that the German didn't wear it.

Michael Ballack has also stated that it was the former Leverkusen and German legend Rudi Voller, who convinced him to wear the number 13 for the club.

Voller himself wore it at Leverkusen and deemed Ballack as the perfect successor to wear his shirt.

While people may argue that 13 brings bad luck, Ballack has been a decorated player in his career, winning multiple trophies with the number on his back.

Also, Ballack's lucky number is 4, a mere addition of 1 and 3. Talk about being unlucky now!

#4: Maicon

AS Roma v Udinese Calcio - Serie A
Maicon also wore number 13 during his career.

Maicon is regarded as one of the finest players of his generation. But, like many others, he too, opted for a different number than those reserved for defenders.

Due to his success, strength, pace, and power, he earned the nickname "Il Colosso" ("The Colossus") during his time at Inter Milan, where he developed into one of the best attacking full-backs in the world.

Maicon has never expressed his opinion on the reason for using number 13.

The Bazilian wing-back was an integral part of an Inter Milan squad, that won the UEFA Champions League after forty-four years.

Of all the trophies in his cabinet, only the World Cup remains absent. Except for that one trophy, he has had a glittering career in the game.

#3: Alessandro Nesta

Nesta was one of the greatest defenders to grace the game.
Nesta was one of the greatest defenders to grace the game.

Alessandro Nesta is one of the most revered footballers in the history of the game. Along with club legend Paolo Maldini, he formed one of the most feared and respected defensive partnerships in the history of the game.

During his times, AC Milan were almost unbreachable.

Even Nesta preferred to wear the number 13 for his entire career. It his legacy that has helped the unlucky number gain a legendary status at AC Milan.

Any number 13 haters must check out Nesta's achievements.

They consist of every major trophy on both, club level as well as international football. Unlucky? Really?

#2: Eusebio

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Eusebio(left) wore the number 13 at the 1966 World Cup

Eusebio was the greatest footballer to be born in Portugal, until the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. He was right there in the upper echelon consisting of Pele, Diego Maradona, and George Best.

The Portuguese legend wore the number 13 for Portugal in the 1966 World Cup. They finished in the third place that year, which was their best ever result in the competition to this day.

But, that's not all. The Mozambique-born striker scored a tally of nine goals in that tournament, with four of them coming in a 5-3 quarterfinal win over North Korea.

To this date, Eusebio remains the only player to win an individual award in the tournament, wearing a number 13 shirt. He won the golden boot for being the World Cup top scorer.

#1: Gerd Muller

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Gerd Muller in action wearing the number 13 kit for Germany

For all the modern fans, Gerd Muller is known as the player whose 'goals in a calendar year' record was broken by Lionel Messi.

Being a fast, pacey forward, Muller is regarded as one of the ultimate legends to play the beautiful game.

Gerd Muller won the World Cup in 1974, wearing the number 13 shirt, scoring a goal in the final versus the Netherlands.

Also, it was Muller who held the record for most goals in a World Cup with 14 goals, which was later broken by Ronaldo 'Il Fenomeno'.

Gerd Muller scored goals at the same rate at which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi score today.


Special Mention:

Notably, Thomas Muller, his namesake, and current German winger, occupies his jersey number in the national team, as well as for Bayern Munich.

He also won the FIFA World Cup in 2014 with Germany, wearing the number 13 shirt.

Edited by Aakanksh Sanketh
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