Football squad numbers explained

It’s not uncommon for a first-year player with high potential to be given a lower number than an underperforming veteran who has been there longer.

On top of this, some clubs allow their players to choose their own squad numbers; these can fluctuate depending on whether they change teams or are traded across leagues within a single country.

In this case, you might see one player wearing three different numbers over his career: number 8 at the youth level in England, then number 10 during his first stint with Liverpool FC before switching back when he moved abroad again later down south with Manchester United FC!


How are squad numbers assigned to players?

The goalkeeper always wears number 1, as he or she is considered to be the most important player on the pitch. All other players are given their squad numbers based both on their position and seniority within the squad.

Squad numbers are assigned to players at the start of every season, prior to any games being played.

Why do some players have different squad numbers in different competitions?

Squad numbers have their origins in the 19th century when teams started to wear numbers on their shirts for easy identification. They were originally just for the players who weren’t in the starting line-up, but as time went on they became a way of distinguishing between squad members.

Nowadays, it’s common practice to use different squad numbers depending on whatever competition you’re playing in. If a player wears number 25 at home and away during a league season, they might wear number 18 during European games or Cup competitions (although this is not always the case).

The reason for this is simple: rules regarding squad numbering differ between competitions played under UEFA regulations and those that fall under Premier League rules.

In Uefa Champions League matches, players are required to use numbering between one and 25; meanwhile, Football League clubs must assign numbers from one through 50 only if they play against an opponent from another league with rules requiring different numbering arrangements (for example if you have an international friend coming over from abroad.

What happens if two players share the same squad number?

If two players share the same number, the player who has been at the club longer gets to keep it. If one of those players then leaves, whoever is left with that number automatically receives it back.

If this happens and you want to change your squad number (for example, you don’t like your current shirt number), then you have to choose a new one. You can request a change by emailing supporter services.

Why do some clubs use odd numbers for outfield players and even for goalkeepers?

Clubs are free to decide the squad numbering system they will use and whether or not it’s a requirement that shirt numbers increase numerically as you move down the pitch.

The most common is to have even numbers for goalkeepers and odd numbers for outfield players, but there are some exceptions. For example, Manchester City has been known to have their goalkeepers wear even numbers since Peter Schmeichel in the 1990s while Celtic assign their starting goalkeeper an odd number (1).

There are also some clubs that do not assign specific squad numbers at all. Instead, they leave each player free to pick any shirt number from 1–99 that he wants when he comes into the team.

Can a manager change a player’s squad number whenever they want?

Yes, a manager can change a player’s squad number whenever they want. Squad numbers are an important part of a player’s identity, and some players will even choose their own squad number if they feel strongly about it.


Squad numbers are an important part of football.

Squad numbers are an important part of football, so it’s probably best to know what they mean.

In most cases, the number you wear is simply a number within your squad—the first team (the side with all the best players), or maybe even just one of several teams.

But sometimes players will also wear special numbers for specific reasons: to mark their position on the pitch or to celebrate something personal or special in their lives.

Football squad numbers explained

Can you wear number 0 soccer?

Did you know that a number 0 soccer player is not allowed to play in the Premier League? That’s right, a number 0 player is only permitted to play as a goalkeeper.

In fact, the vast majority of leagues across the world have strict rules regarding what numbers are available for each position.

Number 1 shirt

The number 1 shirt is only worn by goalkeepers, and it’s usually reserved for the team’s best goalkeeper.

The reason behind this is that the goalkeeper takes on more responsibility than any other player on the pitch. If a goal is conceded, he’s the first person to be blamed, so he needs to be able to handle pressure better than anyone else.

On top of that, if a team has two good keepers, they can decide which one wants to wear number 1—that means there could be more than one number 1 in your club’s squad!

Number 2 shirt

The number 2 shirt is arguably the most coveted position in football. It often belongs to a left-back, with defenders who wear it covering the entire flank of their team’s defense from one end of the pitch to another.

Left backs are expected to be fast and brave on the ball, and should be able to play it out from the back when necessary.

The number 2 shirt has been worn by some of football’s greatest players in history – Paolo Maldini made over 700 appearances for AC Milan wearing this number, while Franco Baresi wore it for over 700 games during his career at club level and international competition as well.

A few other examples include Marcel Desailly (France), Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Cafu (Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Spain), and Jordi Alba (Spain).

Number 3 shirt

The number 3 shirt is usually a defender. It is traditionally worn by left backs, but can also be used by center-backs or right backs.

As such, some players have made it their own—Roberto Carlos and Ashley Cole are two of the most famous examples.

It’s also become synonymous with players like Paolo Maldini and Marcelo who have used this shirt at all stages of their careers and played in multiple positions throughout their playing days.

Number 4 shirt

The number 4 shirt is worn by a variety of players who play in defense. This includes David Luiz, Nemanja Vidic, and Lionel Messi. These players tend to be big men who are good in the air and can tackle well. The number 4 shirt is also often given out as the captain’s armband when a player is not wearing it otherwise

Number 5 shirt

The number five shirt is generally assigned to a defensive player, in particular one who plays in central defense.

The number five is also popular with players who are considered to be good at heading the ball (e.g., David Luiz and Raphael Varane) or long-range shots (e.g., Cyle Larin).

Notable players who have worn this number include:

  • Joe Hart (footballer born 1986) – English football goalkeeper
  • Paolo Maldini – Italian footballer
  • Franz Beckenbauer – German professional footballer

Number 6 shirt

The number 6 shirt is traditionally the number worn by a team’s best defender. Players who have worn it include Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore, and Gaetano Scirea.

The number 6 was also worn by Arsenal legend Tony Adams for most of his career at Highbury – although he was more renowned for being a box-to-box midfielder rather than just a center-back.

Number 7 shirt

The number seven shirt is traditionally worn by the right winger or right-sided attacking midfielder. Some of the most famous players to wear it include Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Luis Figo.

The number seven shirt has been reserved for wingers and second strikers since its inception, although some players have worn this shirt while playing in other positions.

For example, Brazilian striker Neymar Jr wears number 10 when he plays as a center-forward but wears the less traditional 7 when he plays on the right wing.

Number 8 shirt

The number 8 shirt is usually reserved for a central midfielder, who sits in front of the defensive midfielder and is sometimes referred to as a box-to-box midfielder. They’re required to be strong tacklers, good passers, and good shooters to make sure their team has possession of the ball as much as possible.

Many great players have donned this number over the years including Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC), and Paul Scholes (Manchester United).

Number 9 shirt

The number 9 shirt is traditionally worn by a striker or center-forward. Typically, this player will be the team’s main goalscorer and will drop back to help out in defense occasionally.

The number 9 shirt is still often given to the team’s main striker, but it has also become a common sight among veteran players looking to end their careers on a high note.

Number 10 shirt

The number 10 shirt is the most prestigious and legendary shirt to wear in football. It’s been worn by some of the greatest players in the world; from Diego Maradona, George Best, and Franz Beckenbauer to Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, and Mesut Ozil.

However, for many years it was reserved for attacking midfielders or strikers because Serie A rules during this period deemed that only players who scored 20 goals could wear their number on their back.

This meant that if a striker didn’t manage this feat by December 31st they had to relinquish their right to wear it until next season – which led to many teams having two players with identical numbers!

Number 11 shirt

The 11 shirts is traditionally worn by a backup striker in the team, but sometimes it’s given to the team’s most creative player. A few famous examples of this are Ronaldinho and George Best. They both played as playmakers for their respective teams instead of strikers, but they were still used as goalscorers too.

George Best wore number 11 during his whole career with Manchester United, who he joined at age 15 in 1963. He scored 237 goals in 527 appearances for them over 14 years until 1974 when he retired because of injury problems caused by alcohol abuse.

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