Famous Soccer Jersey Numbers

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The world at large is familiar with many of the sporting world’s most iconic numbers—Michael Jordan’s #23, Wayne Gretzky’s #99, or the civil rights legend Jackie Robinson’s #42 (which is now worn on the sleeve of every MLB player).

But what about soccer?

What jersey numbers have the legends of soccer worn throughout the years? Let’s take a look!

Jersey #1 (The Goalies)

Did you know most goalies wear the #1? If you knew but were not sure why, it is because the goalie is listed first on team lists. Knowing that, let’s take a look at a few of the greatest-ever goalies to wear number one their jerseys.

Lev Yashin #1

For starters, you can’t speak of the best goalies without starting with the man regarded as the greatest ever, Soviet Union’s soccer icon Lev Yashin. Known as “The Black Panther,” Yashin saved over 150 penalty kicks, far more than any other goalie. He remains the only goalkeeper in soccer history to win the coveted Ballon d’Or award.

Petr Cech #1

Incredible at the Premier League level as well as in international play with 124 caps (far and away the most capped player of anyone on the Czech national team). It only took Cech 180 games to reach 100 clean sheets in the Premier League, which is a league record for a goalie.

David de Gea #1

Born in Madrid, de Gea was widely considered the best goalie in the world during the mid-2010s when he was a mainstay in the net for Manchester United. The 6’4 Spaniard has won one Premier League Title, an FA Cup, a League Cup, a UEFA Europa League, and three Community Shields.

Jersey #2-#6 (The Wall of Defense)

You can’t have great soccer teams without a formidable defense to stop any attack, and the backs are there to keep opposing offenses from putting the ball through the net. Right and left-backs tend to wear the numbers two or three, while center-backs often don a five or six.

Here are a few of the absolute best to ever stop the attack.

Gary Neville #2

The right-back who donned #2 spent his entire career with Manchester United, Neville was one of the greatest English players ever. He piled up 20 total trophies that included two Champions League titles and eight Premier League championships.

Cafu #2

Marcos Evangelista de Morais, aka Cafu, may be the best South American defender in soccer history—a lofty title considering the continent’s laundry list of soccer legends. Cafu would play in four World Cup tournaments with Brazil’s national team and is the only player in history to appear in three consecutive World Cup tournaments, two of which his team was victorious.

Paolo Maldini #3

The great Italian defender is another on a long list of fantastic Italian backs that made life heck for opposing midfielders and strikers. Maldini, however, is a guy that many think of as the greatest defender in soccer history. The man won Defender of the Year awards in his late thirties to give you an idea of how good he was, and spent his entire 25-year career with Italian Serie A club Milan.

Franz Beckenbauer #5

Often in the debate for the greatest defender in soccer history, Beckenbauer revolutionized the defensive end at the sweeper position and won championships as both a player and coach. He also became the first player in history to win the European Cup as captain three times.

Bobby Moore #6

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players England has ever had, Moore played in over 600 games for West Ham. He also was part of the only England national team to win the World Cup, in 1966, and legendary soccer great Pele said Moore was the most formidable defender he ever faced.

Jersey #7 and #10 (Midfielders and Strikers)

In the grand scheme of things, the midfielders and forwards are the stars of soccer; as in, the thrilling players that fans come to watch. They are the Ronaldos and Messis and Peles of the sport—guys that generate huge amounts of revenue for the game due to jersey sales and sponsorships.

While they are not more important than any other position on the field, without these individual offensive powerhouses, the sport would not thrive globally the way it does.

Christiano Ronaldo #7

Many experts regard Christiani Ronaldo as one of the greatest footballers ever to play the game and for good reason. He holds the record for most appearances, goals, and assists in the Champions League and has accumulated five Ballon d’Or trophies and four European Golden Shoes.

Read More: Best Foldable Soccer Goals

George Best #7

One of the best players to ever do it for Manchester United, George Best was born in Belfast but the Irishman would become a star in England with his dynamic dribbling style (read more about basic soccer skills). The big personality is hands down the greatest player to ever come from Ireland.

Pele #10

How good was Pele? Let’s put it this way, the soccer GOAT started playing professionally at the age of 15! Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele was named by FIFA as the greatest footballer ever as his 1,279 goals in 1,363 games are recognized as a Guinness World Record.

Lionel Messi #10

Messi, Ronaldo, and Pele are three mainstays of the Greatest Player of All Time lists as each has a valid argument no matter who you choose. From one of the great soccer nations of Argentina (to changing the MLS forever), Messi is the country’s greatest player ever, better than the country’s other lauded sports icon, Maradona. He currently holds the record for most Ballon d’Or and six European Golden Shoes with seven and six, respectively.

Diego Maradona #10

The eccentric and incredibly gifted midfielder is known for two of the most famous goals in soccer history, but that understates his elaborate career. He won the FIFA Golden Ball of the Year award for three consecutive years and dominated the 1986 World Cup in one of the best Cup performances in history.

About Ryan from Sport Stuff Genius 58 Articles
A complete sports fanatic most of his life, Ryan has taken his interest and expert knowledge to Sport Stuff Genius—a blog dedicated to uncovering answers to different questions and bringing fun to all things ball.