Squad Numbers (article) (1 Viewer)

Sivori

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2002
810
#1
Here's an article I read in Calcio Italia (formerly Football Italia), I've chosen to write the story down here in full because it's about something I have a strong personal opinion on; Shirt numbers. So here it is:

When squad numbers were introduced in the mid-1990s, Italian players embraced them like their American counterparts.Nik Howe looks at the history of the shirt number and some of this season's more bizarre choices

Since the introduction of squad numbers for the 1995-96 season, the figure a player wears on his shirt has become less about the position he plays in and more about whom he admires or when he was born. There was once a time when if you wore the No 1 you were a goalkeeper and if it was the nine that adorned your back then you were almost certainly the side's centre forward.

The No 10, especially in Italy, is held in high regard. Such giants as Gianni Rivera, Diego Maradona and Michel Platini have all done the double figure proud. It is generally reserved for the team's star and the fan's hero. This season Alessandro Del Piero will wear it for Juventus, Francesco Totti for Roma and Cristiano Lupatelli for Chievo. Who's Lupatelli I hear you ask? Doesn't he play in goal? He does and as the Flying Donkey's regular 'keeper should surely wear the No 1. But instead Chievo's squad numbers begin at two so the former Roma reserve can satisfy his ego with Italian football's most fabled shirt.

Debate will forever rage on about who should be honoured with the No 10 at international level - Totti or Del Piero. The Roma man is currently in favour having progressed from wearin 20 at Euro 2000. A hero at that tournament, he was seen as the natural heir to a shirt worn by such Azurri greats as Giancarlo Antognoni, Giuseppe Giannini and Roberto Baggio.

Del Piero, meanwhile, opts for the No 10 with his club but seven with Italy. It is a number that is becoming increasingly popular and brings the Juventus fantasista in line with other Adidas-sponsored players such as Man Utd and England midfielder David Beckham and Real Madrid's Spanish international Raul.

Dubbed a marketing masterstroke by the German sportswear giant, Del Piero cites his reason for choosing as purely superstitious. Apparently he wore the shirt as a Padova youth product and believes some of his best performances came in the No 7. It is for this same reason that Bologna's Claudio Bellucci always wears 11. Given his top-flight debut in that shirt, the 27-year old forward is reluctant to ever give it up.

As a mark of respect though more and more clubs are choosing to honour their greatest players by retiring their numbers. Franco Baresi's No 6 can no longer be worn at Milan and rumours are trife that the Rossoneri could also give up Paolo Maldini's famed No 3 shirt when he quits the game. Right or wrong, it is forcing players into choosing less conventional squad numbers as one to 11 begin to disappear.

But where will it end? Last season alone saw two numbers withdrawn after the tragic deaths of Brescia defender Vittorio Mero and Jason Mayele of Chievo. It was a touching tribute from both clubs but calcio Italiano is in danger of looking more like a game of American Football of Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees, for instance, have retired 15 digits in their history and now only have two single numbers to choose from. Is this the situation Serie A wants to find itself in? Shirt numbers were originally invented to help fans and referees identify players, but now the numbers bear no relation to were they play.

An increasing trend in recent seasons sees players opting for their year of birth. Both Inter's Francesco Coco (77) and Nicola Ventola (78) have chosen that method. The fact that they play at either ends of the field means nothing to an uneducated fan. But they're not the only ones Lazio goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi, born in February 1970, has worn 70 since arriving in the capital. Suggestions that was his weight in stone when joined the club, however, are completey unfounded.

Other popular choices include wearing the same shirt as your hero. Torino goalkeeper Luca Bucci used to wear the No 25 because that was the number worn by his former Parma teammate Gianfranco Zola. The tiny Italian still adorns the 25 for Chelsea and the club are considering retiring it when the former international forward quits. Inter defender Marco Materazzi wears the No 23 in honour of American basketball great Michael Jordan and Chievo captain dons the five, inspired by Roma hero and 1983 Scudetto-winner Falcao.

There are also some players who ensure they get first choice on certain numbers. Long linked to Inter, Alessandro Nesta had the Nerazzurri reserve "his" No 13 until a decision was made over his future. When the Italian international opted for a move to city rivals Milan, the existing holder of 13,Ibrahim Ba, was asked to relinquish it. Unlucky in England, the No 13 is highly desirable in Italy and Fabio Cannavaro even took it when he joined Inter instead of Nesta.

Not being able to get your chosen number has also led to some elaborat alternatives. Mos famous of all was Ivan Zamorano's 1+8 at Inter because Ronaldo already wore the No 9. But no one ever argues over the right to wear the No 17, the unluckiest digits in Italy. Napoli have even gone so far as not to include it in their squad roster, but it hasn't hampered David Trezeguet since his arrival in the Peninsula. Last season Juve's No 17 guided the club to their 26th Scudetto and was crowned joint Serie A top scorer. It goes without saying that he'll be wearing it again this campaign. Roma midfielder Damiano Tommasi, a devout Christian, is also not afraid to wear the and even does so at international level.

Some of the strangest numbers on show this season include the 33 worn by Batistuta, his age, the 94 donned by Lorenzo D'Anna after he joined Chievo from Fiorentina in that year, and the three worn by Mohamed Kallon at Inter despite being a striker. The award for the shortest-ever shirt retirement goes to Roma who put Aldair's No 6 when they released the Brazilian at the end of last season, but who is now back wearing it for his final campaign with the club.

Light-hearted it may be, but if this fasicle fashion continues we are in danger of making a mockery of the Italian game, and it's suffered enough in recent times. It is high time the rest of Serie A followed the example set by Italian champions Juventus. The Bianconeri have this season registered 28 players in their squad and have only allowed them to chose between numbers from one to 28. So no Gianluigi Buffon wearing No 88 or Lilian Thuram sporting 50, but sensible squad numbers that we can all understand.

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Taken from Calcio Italia October 2002
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Martin

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
56,794
#2
Oh dear, don't tell me you typed it all up! :eek:

You should have told me, have the mag right in front of me and a scanner not too far away.. :embarass:
 

Majed

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2002
9,630
#4
Good article, i have to agree that its getting rediculous with some players. For example, any number above 30 is crazy.
I like Zamorano's idea of the +. thats was kewl, i find nothing wrong with that...he is still wearing 18.
i think that numbers should be as low as possible. but i also do feel that GREAT players' numbers SHOULD be retired. and i mean GREAT HEROs.
Maldini, Baresi, and Zola surely deserve it for their contributions.

i'm not sure about Juve retiring 10 for DP...thats doesn't sound right.

Napoli retiring 10 makes sense.

My conclusion:
Players should only be able to chose a set of numbers according to their position. Though the number shouldn't be lower than 30 unless the team has a great history of GREAT players who's numbers' are retired.

Number sets according to postion.
Goalkeepers: 1, 12
Defenders: 2,3,4,5,6,7,13 ....or any untaken number over 22
Mid: 7,8,10,11,14,15,16,20,21.....or any number over 22
Attackers: 7,9,10,11,17,18,19.....or any number over 22
 
Jul 12, 2002
5,666
#6
Restricting player numbers is unnacceptable. Personally, I've always worn the number "0", and the fact that you can't even wear that number in the top flights is outrageous. You don't need players to wear their classic numbers because it is easy to tell who they are, because the announcers tell you.
 

Martin

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
56,794
#7
++ [ originally posted by Majed ] ++
i'm not sure about Juve retiring 10 for DP...thats doesn't sound right.

Napoli retiring 10 makes sense.
Exactly, there have been greater #10 at Juve than Alex and more are to come. Ridiculous to retire the shirt.

But for Napoli, Diego pretty much stands out so that makes a lot more sense.

I totally oppose the retirement of national team shirt though.
 
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Sivori

Sivori

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2002
810
#9
I don't think that retiring shirts is good in the long term. First of all it will eventually lead to squad numbers that are pretty ridiculous. Secondly, I feel that retiring a squad number is like saying that there won't be a player that good for this team - ever again. While this is nice thought it's also a bit pessimistic and also unrealistic; Supposing that the clubs will go on for atleast a hundred years more, they're bound to have some great players come along for them.
 
Jul 12, 2002
5,666
#11
Retiring numbers was something that everyone thought was a cool idea, but they didn't think long term, and soccer should see that and prohibit it.
 

Almajhool

Junior Member
Sep 8, 2002
155
#14
IMO ..retiring numbers is only gr8 players or the super stars .. like Maradona, pele, kruff ...

players like DP, Baggio, Maldini still gr8 but they rn't legends like the above players ...

i like crazy numbers .. like 78 ,,, i'm still hopin to see a striker wearin 1 or 0 ...

i've seen a professional goli wearin 11 and 9 and a striker wearin 3 ... , which i think is cool ..
 

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