Back in the olden days you knew exactly where you were when it came to a footballer's shirt number.

Actually, you knew exactly where the players would be on the pitch by their shirt number - because a starting line-up would trot out onto the pitch in numbers 1 to 11, and the players would generally be given a shirt number that reflected their position on the pitch.

But not nowadays. Oh no. The adoption of large squad numbers, and things like players image rights have changed all of that.

Now we're seeing footballers requesting a specific shirt number so that they can use it in their marketing strategy (think Beckham with his no.23) or just to be a bit different and have a unique number, which has meant that you often get just a handful of players in a starting XI who have a 1 to 11 shirt number, and the remainder could be wearing anything!

Shirt Numbers and Player Positions - How it used to be...

So, for all you kids out there who are wondering what we're going on about, here's a list of the good old-fashioned shirt numbering system, and which positions you'd expect to see those numbers playing in...

  • 1  Goalkeeper
  • 2  Right Full-back
  • 3  Left Full-back
  • 4  Defensive Midfielder
  • 5  Centre-half
  • 6  Centre-half
  • 7  Right Winger
  • 8  Central Midfielder / Playmaker
  • 9  Striker / Centre Forward
  • 10 Support striker / In the hole / Attacking Midfielder
  • 11 Left Winger