Shirt numbers: Not always one to eleven!

Opinion

Jordan Ayew (The Aston Villa version of Andre) was shown off by Swansea City on Thursday with obligatory club shirt in hand after his return from the African Cup of Nations. Jordan chose the very unusual number three despite being a striker, his excuse was that Ghana legend Asamoah Gyan wore number three, and hopes that this number would bring him success and goals with Swansea.

For a traditional football fan like me, the sight of this annoys me greatly. So I went to the trouble of looking up other bizarre modern day squad numbers.

My first example was Wales Euro’s star and now West Brom reserve Hal Robson-Kanu. He now opts to have the number four shirt, bit of a bad omen really, he probably hasn’t started that many games so far!

Another chap who liked the number four is the former Arsenal, West Brom and Pompey striker Nwankwo Kanu (no relation to Hal). He loved the number twenty-five for his club side, but opted to wear number four when playing for Nigeria. It wasn’t a lucky omen as his goal scoring record for the Super Eagles was a poor twelve goals in nearly a one hundred games. Saying that his record wasn’t that much better at Arsenal!

There is also the Edgar Davids approach, and use the number one shirt when he was player/manager at Barnet. He also had the shirt number during a very short spell at Crystal Palace, his love of odd numbers was based on his willingness to have numbers three and five at Juventus and Spurs respectively. ‘I am starting a new trend’ he stated when he took the number one shirt off Barnet keeper Graham Stack and gave it to himself, you could kind of agree he was right as people like me are now writing lists on it!

During my research, I found a whole back four with different than usual squad numbers. Former Liverpool and Pompey right back Glen Johnson has the number eight at Stoke, centre halves William Gallas and Khalid Boulahrouz had numbers ten and nine with Arsenal and Chelsea respectively. The French left back Bixente Lizarazu had the number sixty-nine during his time at Bayern. The French left back had a good reason for his number,1969 was the year of his birth and he apparently weighed 69kg throughout his time there.

The other three obviously decided they wanted to be strikers and midfielders for a bit! A guy who was a genuine striker was Nicolas Anelka, his iconic number thirty-nine shirt was also the length of days it took before he fell out with someone at his new club. He wore this shirt number when he was sacked at West Brom so this proves this point clearly!

Nowadays, you have a whole team with bizarre squad numbers. This is usually seen in Italian football but this is now also part of the day to day running of Sheffield Wednesday. The bigwigs at the Yorkshire club have a policy in place where the owner picks the player’s squad numbers. Although this appears helpful to the player, the results are that players in certain positions get very odd squad numbers.

Along with the fact that first team regulars like Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri have number forty one and forty five shirts, you also have the reserve goalkeeper being number two (in shirt number and in the matchday squad). You could be the left back Adam Reach who currently holds the number nine while former Sunderland and Wolves striker Steven Fletcher is number six. Now to me, the last two in particular should be the other way round but am I just old fashioned?

Although, you could argue that six could actually have been the total number of goals Fletcher is looking to get this season. Maybe the owner is looking to motivate him to score more goals, whatever the case football has been a numbers game for a while and it’s not going to stop there.