Best Players of all time to play at their number. (Defence)

This title may seem a little confusing or ambiguous. I am interested in discovering whether there is still a link between shirt number and what position a player plays on the pitch.

It is a tradition in the England national team that all of the starting XI have numbers 1-11. If Marcus Rashford started on the bench in one game, donning the no.20 shirt, he could start the next and wear no.11.

The usage of shirt numbers to dictate the position a player plays in has decreased. The introduction of FIFA and such games have led to younger fans talking about positions such as CDM and CAM.

In the original make-up of a team, numbered 1-11, a player's role was decided by his shirt number.

It was interesting to see how many players who played in the no.10 position actually repped the no.10 on their back! In the Premier League, only 4 such instances occur; Manuel Lanzini from West Ham, Gylfi Sigurdsson from Everton, James Maddison from Leicester and Tom Cairney from Fulham.

No.1 - GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

Clubs: Parma, Juventus, PSG


- 11 x League Titles (10 with Juventus, 1 with PSG)

- 1 x FIFA World Cup

- 13 x League cups

- 1 x UEFA Super Cup

- 1 x Footballer of the Year

- Interestingly enough, Buffon didn't always wear the no.1. There was an occasion in September 2000 when Buffon wore the no.88 for his club Parma. He had attempted to wear the no. 00, but the Italian League didn't recognise it as a number. Buffon received scrutiny from the Italian Jewish Community, complaining that the number 88 was an offensive neo-Nazi symbol. Of course, Buffon pleaded his innocence.

- Best Goalkeeper to NOT wear the no.1 shirt: there are currently a few goal-keepers who do this. The likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ederson, Andre Onana, Guillermo Ochoa.

No.2 - RB: Gary Neville (England)

Clubs: Manchester United


- 12 x League Titles

- 2 x UEFA Champions Leagues

- 4 x FA Cups

- 3 x League Cups

- 1 x FIFA Club World Cup

- 1 x Intercontinental Cup

- 7 x English Super Cups

- Gary Neville didn't wear the number 2 for his whole career. Famously part of the "class of '92", Neville was a part of the United Senior Squad from a young age.

- As a younger player, squad numbers like the no.2 were given to the regular starters. As a result, Neville wore; 12,13,14,15,16,20,26 and 27. It was not until the 1994/95 season when Neville started to rep the no.2 shirt.

- Best Right-Back to NOT wear the no.2 shirt: Phillip Lahm, who wore the number 21.

No.3 - LB: Roberto Carlos (Brazil)

Clubs: Uniao Sao Joao, Palmeiras, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Fenerbache, Corinthians, Anzhi Makhachkala, Delhi Dynamos


- 6 x League Titles (4 with Real Madrid, 2 with Palmeiras)

- 1 x FIFA World Cup

- 2 x Copa Americas

- 3 x UEFA Champions Leagues

- 2 x UEFA Super Cups

- 1 x Confederations Cup

- 2 x Intercontinental Cups

- 5 x League Cups (3 with Real Madrid, 2 with Fenerbache)

- Roberto Carlos, like Gary Neville, wore his corresponding shirt number in the prime of his career. However, when he started his career at Inter Milan, he wore the number 6.

- Likewise, when he signed for Corinthians, he wore the number 6, normally the number of a defensive midfielder. Moreover, in his entire career for Brazil, he wore the number 6.

- Best Left-Back to NOT wear the no.3 shirt: Marcelo, who wore the number 12.

No.4 - CB/Sweeper: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)

Clubs: Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV, NY Cosmos


- 5 x League Titles (4 with Munich, 1 with Hamburger SV)

- 1 x FIFA World Cup

- 1 x European Championship

- 3 x European Cup

- 4 x German Cup

- 1 x Intercontintental Cup

- 1 x Europapokal der pokalsieger sieger

- 3 x NASL Soccer Bowl Champion

- 4 x Footballer of the Year

- 2 x Ballon d'Or

- It was Beckenbauer who reformulated the term 'sweeper' or 'libero'. He stared his career in midfield before dropping back into defence.

- He is arguably the greatest defender of all time and one of the best goal-scoring one at that.

- However, Beckenbauer like Carlos and Neville, didn't wear the no.4 his whole career. He fluctuated between the number 4 and 5 shirt for his national team and mainly wore number 5 in the later stage of his career.

- Best Centre-Back/Sweeper to NOT wear the no.4 shirt: Paulo Maldini, who wore the number 3.

No. 5 - CB: Carlos Puyol (Spain)

Clubs: FC Barcelona


- 6 x League Titles (FC Barcelona)

- 1 x FIFA World Cup

- 1 x European Championship

- 3 x UEFA Champions Leagues

- 3 x UEFA Super Cups

- 10 x League Cups

- 2 x FIFA Club World Cups

- Puyol is one of the best leaders in football, constantly setting an example for his team. He was a warrior, making crunching tackles and making goal-clearances with his chest.

- He helped Barcelona win titles upon titles in their golden era.

- As usual, Puyol didn't always wear the no.5 shirt, despite playing for Barcelona his whole career.

- He started off his career in the no.28 shirt as well as the no.24 shirt before he settled for the number 5 shirt.

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