Easy Pace Learning



Lessons and exercises


Football Jersey Numbers

What will I learn from the lesson about football jersey's numbers?

During this English sports lesson you will learn about why shirt numbers were introduced, a brief history and when squad numbers were introduced. The last part using a common football formation shows the positions for 1 to 11.

A brief history on numbered shirts

Numbered shirts were first worn in professional football by English clubs Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday in August 1928. At that time, starting players were wearing numbers 1 to 11 according to their positions on the field, and higher numbers for substitutes.

Why use shirt numbers?

The only reason why numbers are printed on shirts is to help referees and fans tell which players are on the football pitch.

Squad numbers

During the 1954 World Cup fixed numbers were assigned for every player, these were also called squad numbers. It was forty years later, that the Football Association (governing body of English football) scraped the regular use of traditional use of 1 to 11 for players on the pitch, and squad numbers became the rules before the start of the 1993-94 English Premier League season. These days most of the top football leagues around the world use the squad numbers system.

Squad numbers by football position

Even though squad numbers are used the jersey number traditionally shows the position of a soccer player. Jerseys 1 to 11 are often given to the first choice line-up according to their positions on the field.

Using traditional numbering of players in a 4-2-3-1 formation

  • Goalkeeper football jersey learning English
  • Right fullbackfootball jersey learning English
  • Left fullback
  • Centre back
  • Centre back
  • Defending or holding midfielder
  • Right midfielder or wingers
  • Central or Box-to-box midfielder
  • Striker
  • Attacking midfielder or playmaker
  • Left midfielder or wingers

Retired jersey numbers

Sometimes you might hear the phrase "retired jersey number". What does a retired jersey number mean? It simply means that it can no longer be used by other players of the same squad.

Why are shirts retired?

Numbers are retired by clubs to honour a player who has given a great service to a club or national team. Below are some of the more famous retired jersey numbers:

Number = 3 of Milan for Paolo Maldini, the greatest player of AC Milan, Paulo as said is son can wear it should he play for AC Milan.

Number = 6 of Milan for Franco Baresi, regarded one of the best defenders in football history.

Number = 6 of Roma for Aldair, one of the best Brazilian fullbacks of all time.

Number = 6 of West Ham United for Bobby Moore, a legend for England's and West ham.

Number = 10 of Brescia for Roberto Baggio, considered to be the best Italian footballer ever

Number = 10 of New York Cosmos for Pele. He finished his playing days with New York Cosmos, and brought a huge following, and to honour his shirt number was retired at half-time in an exhibition game against Santos, as the second half he played for Santos.

Number = 10 of Kispest AC/Honvéd for Ferench Puskas, considered the best Hungarian players ever.

Number = 10 of Napoli for Diego Maradona, who single handily changed the team to the best club in Serie A at the time.

Number = 14 of Ajax for Johan Cruijff, probably Netherland's best ever player

Number = 23 of Manchester City for Marc-Vivien Foe, The City player died while playing for his national side.

Easy pace Learning online dictionary and how to use dictionaries

Click on the following link for the Online English dictionary - English lesson for any words that you are unsure of.