Reports from BBC Sports Mike Keegan reveal that Manchester United talismanic forward, Robin Van Persie turned down the chance of donning the number 9 jersey for the Red Devils preferring to wear the number 20 jersey he’s been spotting since he joined the club two seasons ago. In Keegan’s tweet, he said: ‘‘Shaw is number 3, Mata 8 & Rooney, 10. Was told LVG asked RVP to take 9 but he stuck with 20.’’ This isn’t a rare occurrence in football, as many players have requested for very odd jersey numbers in the past due to some superstitions, love for the number due to some important events or circumstances they wish to associate themselves with. For Robin Van Persie, the former Arsenal captain, one would wonder the reason he stuck with the number 20 jersey, as he had the opportunity to request for the 20 jersey at Arsenal and for Netherlands but donned the 11, 10 and 9 jerseys respectively on the 2 squads.
While jersey numbers matters a lot to some players probably due to some numerological or astronomical beliefs, it rarely ever occurs to others what is written at the back of their jerseys. A certain Niklas Bendtner had requested to wear the number 52 jersey at Arsenal; Yaya Toure dons the number 42 jersey at Manchester City; Carlos Tevez had worn the number 32 jersey at Manchester City; Zinedine Zidane appeared in jersey number 5 for Real Madrid in his playing time and a certain defender called William Gallas played with the jersey number 10 at Arsenal. However, to some players, the jersey number they appear in matters a lot as they probably have developed a brand with that particular number over their playing career elsewhere. A certain Mario Balotelli had worn and is still wearing jersey number 45 for Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and now Liverpool; Cesc Fabregas wore the number 4 jersey after Patrick Vieira left Arsenal, moved on to Barcelona to retain his number 4 jersey and came back to London for Chelsea to don the number 4 jersey; and it was the choice of the number 13 jersey that reportedly caused the feud between William Gallas and Jose Mourinho which made the French defender eventually leave Chelsea. Mourinho had bought Michael Ballack who had requested for the number 13 jersey which was owned by Gallas at that time.
While it doesn’t appear that Robin Van Persie believes in some superstitious ideas or philosophies, as he is a proven prolific striker regardless of the jersey number on his back, one cannot rule out the sudden love for jersey number 20 and attribute it to such belief systems. Another suspected reason why the Dutch talisman may have stuck to the number 20 jersey, could be the importance of doing away with the undue pressure that such numbers as the jersey number 9 could bring. Some players may have blossomed in very bright colours for a club creating a very big expectation from any player that inherits the jersey number after them. The number 9 jersey had previously been worn by Brian McClair and treble winning, Andy Cole at Manchester United and he did well in that jersey number. RVP may have done away with that number to rid himself of the pressure that the number brings as he has enough pressure to perform optimally at Manchester United already!