After Wout Weghorst‘s move to Manchester United, he was assigned the number 27 jersey. At first glance, it may seem like an odd choice, but the Dutchman explained his reasoning. He referred to it as a “striker’s number” because 2 + 7 equals 9. Thus, in Weghorst’s mind, he would be wearing the number 9 shirt at Old Trafford.
However, which other football players carry peculiar numbers on their backs?
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 66
Many would assume that the number 66 is a tribute to England’s only World Cup title. However, that is not the reason why the Liverpool defender wears this number. Academy players often receive higher numbers.
Lee Radcliffe, the kit manager at Liverpool, revealed that he assigned the number 66 to a young Alexander-Arnold, and the player grew fond of it, continuing to wear it to this day.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 26
Chelsea fans know that the Senegalese star rang up John Terry to seek permission to wear the number 26 jersey. However, Koulibaly does not wear the number because of the “captain, leader, and legend” of the Blues. In fact, Koulibaly and his wife share the same birthdate – June 20th, or 20/6.
Phil Foden – 47
Foden is a key figure in Manchester City’s squad. He decided to continue wearing the number 47, even when offered the number 10 jersey. The late grandfather of Foden, named Ronnie, passed away at the age of 47 while Foden was still in the club’s academy.
Jude Bellingham – 22
The midfielder’s journey in professional football began with Birmingham City. Although he played only 41 matches for the team, his number was retired by the club.
Mike Dodds, the head of Birmingham’s academy, revealed that Bellingham was assigned the number 22 as a child to signify that “he can do anything” – as numbers 4, 8, and 10 combined make 22.
Mario Balotelli – 45
The Italian striker has worn the number 45 throughout his career. Similar to Weghorst, there is a mathematical reason behind this decision. Balotelli claims he wanted to wear the number 9 but settled for 45 because 4 + 5 equals 9.
Bruno Guimarães – 39
The Newcastle star has played for four clubs in his career so far, always sporting the number 39. It turns out that the reason behind this choice is his father. His father used to drive a taxi with the number 39.
Nicklas Bendtner – 52
The Danish forward donned three different numbers at Arsenal – 33, 26, and 52. While wearing the 26th number, it is rumored that a psychic told Bendtner’s mother that the number 8 was unlucky. Since 2 + 6 equals 8, Bendtner changed the digits.
He wanted to wear the number 7, but it was taken by Tomas Rosicky. Bendtner chose to follow the path of mathematics and thus took number 52. Why he didn’t select the 25th number remains unknown.
David Beckham – 23
Beckham wore number 7 for England and Manchester United but changed his jersey number after leaving England. He joined Real Madrid in 2003 and took the number 23 jersey.
This is due to his love for NBA legend Michael Jordan, who wore the same number in his prime.
Bruno Fernandes – 8 and 18
When Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford, his preferred number 8 was taken by Juan Mata, so he settled for 18.
It is a touching gesture to his wife, who was born on April 18, 1994. However, when the number 8 became available, Fernandes quickly took it to pay homage to his father.
Fernandes’ father was also a footballer and wore the number 8, but he had to give it up to provide for his family.
Casemiro – 18
Another Manchester United star who wears number 18. The Brazilian is a big fan of Paul Scholes. But that’s not the only reason he chose this number. He wore number 18 at the beginning of his career at Real Madrid when he played for the reserve team.
Leon Bailey – 31
Bailey chose the number 31 because of Raheem Sterling. Both were born in Jamaica. Sterling wore the number 31 at the beginning of his career at Liverpool. The Chelsea winger idolizes Sterling, and that’s why he wore that number in his first team, Genk. He took the number 9 at Bayer Leverkusen but again wore the number 31 at Aston Villa.
Mesut Özil – 67
After his contract with Arsenal was terminated, Özil moved to Fenerbahçe. Instead of taking his favorite number 10, he chose 67.
It is believed that the unusual number is connected to his childhood. It is the code for Zonguldak, the Turkish province where his family lived before immigrating to Germany.
Dejan Kulusevski – 44
Before taking the number 21 jersey at Tottenham, the Swede wore the number 44 at Juventus, Parma, and Atalanta. There is an even stranger reason behind this peculiar choice.
Kulusevski was impressed by former Manchester United star Adnan Januzaj during a friendly match. The said player is Adnan Januzaj.
Donny van de Beek – 34
Many Dutch stars, including Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek, wear the number 34. There is a touching reason behind it.
In a preseason friendly in 2017, young Ajax player Abdelhak Nouri collapsed on the field. At just 20 years old, Nouri suffered permanent brain damage. Nouri wore the number 34.
Lionel Messi – 30
Younger fans may have seen Messi wearing the number 10 jersey only during his time at Barcelona. The Argentine was forced to return to his roots as Neymar already wore the number 10 at PSG. In his debut for Barcelona, the “Flea” wore the number 30 on his back. He believes that this will bring him luck in France.