Retired numbers in association football
Association football clubs around the world sometimes retire squad numbers to recognise players' loyal service, sometimes as a memorial after their death.
This practice, long established in the major North American sports, is a recent development in football since squad numbers for specific players were not widely used until the 1990s. Before then, it was typical for players in the starting lineup to be issued numbers 1 to 11 by formation/position on a match-by-match basis, and substitutes to be numbered from 12 upwards, meaning a player might wear different numbers during the season if they were to play in different positions for tactical reasons, or simply not be a regular in the starting lineup.
Retiring a player's number usually occurs after the player has left the team or retired. It honours a player who has meant so much to his club that they retire the shirt number that the player wore during their time there, meaning no other player is permitted to use that number in the future. In some cases, such as those of Jason Mayélé, Vittorio Mero, Marc-Vivien Foé, Miklós Fehér, Ray Jones, Dylan Tombides, François Sterchele, David di Tommaso, Antonio Puerta, Besian Idrizaj, and Piermario Morosini, numbers have been retired to posthumously honour a player who died while still active. Also, Norwegian club Fredrikstad retired Dagfinn Enerly's number following an on-pitch accident that left him paralysed. In Britain, only Bobby Moore's and Dylan Tombides's shirt number has been retired due to great service to the club as opposed to a tragic incident. Although it has not been officially retired, Gianfranco Zola's No. 25 shirt has not been reissued by Chelsea since he left the club in 2003.
The Argentina and Cameroon national teams have been prevented from retiring the numbers of Diego Maradona (10) and Marc-Vivien Foé (17) respectively, by FIFA rules dealing with squad numbers for Finals tournaments; in other competitions or friendlies, national associations may assign numbers according to criteria of their choosing. Similarly, several clubs have been required to reissue retired numbers for continental club competitions due to squad numbering rules of continental confederations. For example, CAF and CONMEBOL have such rules in their club competitions, but CONCACAF does not.
Some South American teams (such as Universitario de Deportes or Flamengo, and even Mexican teams invited for the occasions) have occasionally had to re-issue their retired numbers for special cases due to CONMEBOL rules, which state that shirts must be numbered 1–25 in continental club competitions (such as Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, amongst others).
|Milan||3||Paolo Maldini||Centre back||1984–2009||The shirt was not fully retired. Maldini has given consent for his sons to adopt the number 3 shirt if either of them play professionally for the club.|
|América||10||Cuauhtémoc Blanco||Striker||1992–1997, 1998–2000, 2002–2004, 2005–2007||The shirt number would be retired for a period of 5 years, starting in June 2007. However, jersey #10 has been occasionally re-issued for special cases, due to CONMEBOL rules, which state that shirts must be numbered 1–25 in continental club competitions (such as Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, amongst others). More recently, this number was given to Salvador Cabañas and Daniel Montenegro and is currently being worn by Osvaldo Martínez.|
|Argentina||10||Diego Maradona||Midfielder||1979–1994||The number 10 had been retired by Argentine Football Association in October 2001 to honour Maradona. Before the 2002 World Cup, the AFA submitted a squad list of 23 players for the tournament, listed 1 through 24, with the number 10 omitted. FIFA rejected Argentina's list, and the governing body's president, Sepp Blatter suggested the number 10 shirt be instead given to the team's third-choice goalkeeper, Roberto Bonano. AFA ultimately submitted a revised list with Ariel Ortega, originally listed as number 23, as the number 10. The number 10 has been worn by other players since, most notably by Lionel Messi, whom Maradona considers his "successor."|
|Dunfermline Athletic||4||Norrie McCathie||Defender||1981–1996||The club retired the number after club captain McCathie was found dead in his home on 8 January 1996, as a result of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. At that time, Scottish League clubs used shirt numbered from 1 to 11, so for the remainder of the 1995–96 season, 12 was used instead. However, the number was not retired permanently, and has been re-issued since.|
|Livorno||10||Igor Protti||Striker||1985-88, 1999-2005||In December 2005, Livorno officially retired the #10 jersey. However, Protti, who led the forward line and captained his side in two promotions from Serie C1 to Serie A, quickly gaining a reputation as a fan favourite, announced his willingness to see the #10 number reissued to another player, in order to "give anybody back a dream to dress it one day." This was made effective starting from the 2007–08 season, in which Francesco Tavano played with the #10 number.|
|Exeter City||9||Adam Stansfield||Forward||2006–2010||The club retired the number 9 for nine seasons after the striker died of cancer on 10 August 2010.|
|Maccabi Tel-Aviv||12||Meni Levi||Defender||–2007||During a game between Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem, Levi chest-controlled and kicked the ball, ran back to defend, then collapsed. He returned to his feet, and then collapsed a second time. He was subsequently on a life-support machine, and has since returned home. The club claims that the number 12 is unofficially reserved for the fans.|
|Universitario||9||Lolo Fernández||Forward||1930–53||Number retired only for the 2013 season.|
|Motherwell||10||Phil O'Donnell||Midfielder||1990–1994, 2004–2007||Phil O'Donnell collapsed while playing for Motherwell against Dundee United in 2007. He was later pronounced dead at Wishaw General Hospital. The number 10 shirt was worn by his nephew David Clarkson during the 2008-09 season. Since Clarkson left in June 2009, it has not been retired, but has not been issued to any subsequent player.|
|Orlando Pirates||22||Lesley Manyathela||Striker||2000−2003||The club retired the number 22, after Manyathela died in a car crash in August, 2003. However, Confederation of African Football rules state that shirts must be numbered 1–30 in continental club competitions, so Pirates has been re-issued it in those special cases.|
|Real Oviedo||10||Peter Dubovsky||Midfielder||1995–2000||The Spanish Football League allowed Oviedo to retire number 10 just for the 2000–2001 season, as an exception to its rules. At the end of the season, number 10 was re-issued.|
|Sevilla||16||Antonio Puerta||Left back, Left winger||2004–2007||The shirt has not been fully retired. It was temporarily retired after Puerta died of a cardiac arrest on the first matchday in La Liga 2007–2008 However, the Spanish Football Federation rules state that clubs must use number 1 to 25 for their regular squad, and as a result, David Prieto wore the number in 2008 in honour of his friend.|
|Stabæk||7||Christer Basma||Central defender||1995–1998||The club had retired the number to honor his services for the club. However, the retirement was revoked after 2004 season and the number given to Henning Hauger.|
|FC Haka||14||Valeri Popovitch||Forward||1994–2008||First ever retired shirt number in the history of Finnish football is ex-Haka's Valeri Popovitch's number 14. Popovitch has stated that his sons, who are still playing for Haka's junior teams, can wear the legendary number if they want.|
|Wycombe Wanderers||14||Mark Philo||Midfielder||2004–2006||Philo was killed in a car accident and the number 14 shirt retired. It was later revealed he was significantly over the drink-drive limit and his car veered on to the other side of the road, killing a 58-year-old mother of two.|
|Lyon||16||Luc Borrelli||Goalkeeper||1998-99||posthumous — returned to use in 2011|
|Lyon||17||Marc-Vivien Foé||Midfielder||2000–03||posthumous — returned to use in 2008|
|1. FC Köln||10||Lukas Podolski||Winger||2002–06, 2009–12||The club had announced that the number would remain out of circulation as long as Podolski is playing football on a professional level. Nevertheless, the #10 was given to Patrick Helmes in July 2014.|
|Galatasaray S.K.||3||Bülent Korkmaz||Central defender||1984-2005||Despite the club had announced the retirement of the number, it has been re-issued.|
|Independiente Santa Fe||23||Léider Preciado||Striker||1995-1998, 2000-2001, 2004–2005, 2006-2008, 2011.||The number was out of circulation for a period of 23 months (starting May 2012) in honor of the second top scorer in the history of the club.|
|C.D. Guadalajara||11||Ramón Morales||Midfielder||1998-2011, 2013- (as part of the coaching staff).||The shirt was never officially retired, but it was not issued out of American competitions for the time between Morales' exit and his return as a coach. All players intending to wear the jersey have to ask for Morales' consent. It is now being worn by Jesús Aldo De Nigris since he has received Morales' approval.|
|Sagan Tosu||17||Sakata Michitaka||Non-player||2001-||The shirt was retired posthumously, to honour Michikata who played a key role in establishment of former Tosu Futures and their revival as Sagan Tosu, and who died due to kidney cancer on 7 January 2000. Number 17, derived from the day of his death, was selected to be retired. The number would later also be dedicated to the club's fans, thus they have not retired squad number 12 like most Japanese League teams.|
Dedication to fans
Some clubs dedicate a number to their fans, and do not issue it to any player. The most common number for this practice is 12, from descriptions of the fans as "the twelfth man".
In Japanese footballing tradition, almost all the professional teams retired the number 12 for their supporters. The only two teams not to retire 12 are Urawa Red Diamonds and Sagan Tosu (Sagan retired 17 for a similar reason).
Other clubs and teams include:
Notes: 1 Despite of having their number "12" retired, Brazilian clubs have had to re-issue them for CONMEBOL competitions such as Copa Libertadores, where rosters must be numbered from 1 to 25 consecutively.
Reading, Notts County and Bryne reserve the number 13 for their supporters, Panathinaikos reserve this number in honour of Gate 13, the ultras based in the respective gate in home matches. Norwich City also reserve the number 13 shirt for "the fans" while Shrewsbury Town reserve the number 13 shirt for the fan who wins a pre-season competition.
Bursaspor reserve the number 16 for their supporters.
AFC Bournemouth use squad number 27 for the Steve Fletcher Stand which houses the large majority of hardcore supporters, the number 50 for "12th man" and the number 99 shirt for their mascot, Cherry Bear.
Oldham Athletic reserve the number 40 for their fans.
Leicester City have reserved the number 50 for the mascot, Filbert Fox, to which he wears the number on his shirt to every game.
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