Morning all and happy Sunday.
The big news of the weekend (at the time of writing) is that Eddie Nketiah was given the number 14 shirt. As expected this created a huge uproar from the usual suspects.
Some said the decision was putting disrespect on a shirt most recently worn by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thierry Henry. That Nketiah did not deserve to wear such an iconic shirt.
But are some people just getting their knickers in a twist? Is that 14 that iconic? And do shirt numbers really even matter?
Working backwards, I would love us to go back to an era of 1-11 on the pitch; then 12-18 as the substitutes.
No more egos, no more fighting over shirt numbers, and no more brands being built on the back of this shirt number. You play for the badge on the front of the shirt regardless of the number on the back.
Sadly this will never happen, and we now even see at international level players having “their” shirt number. It’s just a load of rubbish.
But I’d the 14 at Arsenal even that iconic?
Yes, Thierry Henry wore it. And the number will always be linked to him. But it is still just a shirt number.
For me the number 14 will always be Martin Keown’s.
Keown wore it for 6 years whilst playing central defence – only changing to 5 when Steve Bould left.
Prior to Keown wearing it, Anders Limpar and Eddie McGoldrick were the wearers – I imagine those complaining about Eddie getting 14 will now be googling who they were!
In 1999 in came Henry who took over the shirt.
I would imagine Henry hoped to wear the 12 shirt that he had worn at Monaco and France. But that was taken by Christopher Wreh. He settled on 14.
Henry said in an interview back in 2020 “Fourteen is not my number. I took the number 14 at Arsenal because Christopher Wreh had number 12, so I didn’t want to take it off him.”
The reason why he wore 12 previously was because he idealised Marco van Basten.
After Henry, Theo Walcott wore 14.
He did so for 10 years meaning no Arsenal player has worn the 14 jersey more than Theo.
The Aubameyang took it and lost lately Nketiah.
So Limpar, McGoldrick, Keown, Henry, Walcott, Aubameyang and now Nketiah. What an illustrious group to wear such an iconic number.
I remember many years ago William Gallas got the number 10 shirt. There was an uproar.
But this wasn’t due to him wearing Dennis Bergkamp’s old shirt – it was more to do with a defender getting a shirt mostly associated with a certain position. Even back then the “number 10 role” was an iconic position.
My feeling is those moaning would have complained regardless of what number Nketiah got.
They didn’t want Nketiah to have the contract. They don’t want Edu and Mikel Arteta to be at Arsenal. In fact they hate Arsenal. They hate Arsenal more than Spurs fans hate Arsenal.
So if you spent Saturday getting angry online over a shirt number rather than enjoying time with friends and family, then you need to take a long hard look at your life. This type anger will not lead you to living a long and happy life.
There is important things than the number of shirt a footballer wears.
Ps: Happy Fathers Day