Wearing Football's Most Famous Shirts...

While Chelsea think nothing of putting Khalid Boulahrouz in a No 9 shirt, other clubs keep famous shirts for special players. Well, special players and the likes of Nigel Clough and El-Hadji Diouf....

Last Updated: 30/07/08 at 16:52 Post Comment

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When Liverpool fans laugh at Chelsea for having no 'history', they're probably thinking of curious sights like Khalid Boulahrouz in a No 9 shirt, though they could just as easily point fingers at Arsenal for giving the No 10 shirt to William Gallas while Philippe Senderos wears Tony Adams' iconic No 6.

Not every club lets tradition have any influence on their shirt numbering, but thankfully for those of us who like a bit of nostalgia, some still do...

THE LIVERPOOL No 7
Ian Callaghan, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Peter Beardsley, Nigel Clough...Nigel Clough? It's fair to say that Liverpool have not always got it right when awarding the famous No 7 shirt to new players. They certainly got it absolutely spot-on with Dalglish in 1977 despite reservations from Reds fans that he could really fill the boots of the great Keegan, but Clough wilted under the pressure of wearing the shirt. As did Vladimir Smicer, who gladly handed it on to Harry Kewell on his arrival from Leeds. And didn't it go well swimmingly for Mr Sheree Murphy? Robbie Keane gets the shirt, but he has to look back to Steve McManaman for a player worthy of wearing it.


THE MANYOO No 7
When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford in 2003 he asked for the no 28 shirt he had worn at Sporting Lisbon. But Sir Alex Ferguson wanted him to be a legend and gave him the shirt of a legend - vacated by David Beckham (who had taken the 23 at Real Madrid as there was no budging Raul). Ronaldo said: "After I joined, the manager asked me what number I'd like. I said 28. But Ferguson said 'No, you're going to have No. 7,' and the famous shirt was an extra source of motivation. I was forced to live up to such an honour." Previous owners of the shirt had been George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and Beckham. If Ronaldo goes, who on earth would dare follow that little list?


THE MANYOO No 10
When Ruud van Nistelrooy left ManYoo, Wayne Rooney waited just a year before snaffling the number, switching from the Number 8. He said: "When I was offered the chance to wear the number 10, I jumped at it. Some of the game's greatest players have become legends wearing number 10, none more so than Denis Law." As well as Law, Mark Hughes and Van Nistelrooy had also worn the United no 10 shirt, but Rooney was also clearly thinking of other great no 10s like Maradona, Pele, Baggio, Zidane and Ronaldinho who never wore the red of ManYoo, though the latter of course came close.


THE LIVERPOOL No 9
"The fact that Liverpool are giving me the number nine jersey just goes to show the confidence they have placed in me, when considering those who have worn that shirt before me," said a certain Fernando Torres, who certainly lived up to the hype of a shirt previously worn by Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler. Funnily enough, there was no mention of El-Hadji Diouf in that particular Torres press conference. The least said about his exploits in the No 9 shirt the better.


THE NEWCASTLE No 9
Obafemi Martins admitted he was "scared" of wearing the Newcastle No 9 shirt vacated by Alan Shearer when he first arrived at the Toon, and that was probably before he had even heard the names of Albert Stubbins, Jackie Milburn, Vic Keeble and Malcolm McDonald. Then there are the modern heroes like Les Ferdinand and Andy Cole, who did not do half-bad in that No 9 shirt. Shearer offered the shirt to Michael Owen when he first arrived on Tyneside and he sensibly turned it down, obviously fearing the burden of history. The jury is still out on Oba.


THE BRAZIL No 10
Ever since Pele wore the Brazilian No 10 shirt, it became possibly the most iconic in world football. These days it is worn by Ronaldinho (though Diego is currently keeping it warm) but in the interim, the likes of Zico, Rivaldo and Rivelino has all worn the famous shirt, synonymous with the playmaker role in a nation that certainly knows how to revere their playmakers. That England have most recently handed that particular shirt to Michael Owen probably tells you all you need to know about the difference between the two countries.


Sarah Winterburn

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