EFootball has changed a lot in modern times. The growth of teams has caused some players to wear numbers that have nothing to do with the orthodoxy of old, when number 1 was always the goalkeeper and number 11 was the left winger. Since Osvaldo Ardiles, a creative midfielder, appeared at the 1978 World Cup with 1 in the back, football fans have grown accustomed to seeing numbers on the backs of players that contradict their tactical position.
Real Madrid are no exception. Since the 1980s, above all, a few oddities have been observed, such as Carlos Santillana with 13, the usual number of substitute goalkeepers, or Zidane with 5, the central number or traditional pivot. Below we go over some of the weirdest numbers in the white club’s history.
With the ‘2’: From Michel to Paco Llorente
Michel became a legend in Madrid at the Quinta del Buitre with the number ‘8’ on his back. But in his debut, he wore the number ‘2’, the number of the right side, with which he only had his skillful leg in common. A few years later, the number that Dani Carvajal defends today was worn by Paco Llorente, a right winger who had his best Madrid night playing on the left wing, in a European Cup match at Das Antas against Porto.
‘3’ from Militao
The fact that the Brazilian centre-back wears it is already a rarity, as it is the traditional number for left-backs. Another Brazilian, Roberto Carlos, made him the mythical reference of Madrid. Luis Enrique, an interior finisher who didn’t find a footing in Madrid, took him in 94-95.
4: From Ramos… to Juanito
Ramos, Hierro, Pirri, Miguel Muñoz… The list of carriers of the ‘4’ in Madrid is long and illustrious, but it also leaves some curiosities. It was worn by Juanito, one of the club’s historic “7”, in the mid-1980s, and even by Míchel himself.
This is the most paradigmatic case. Zidane arrived in Madrid in which Figo had chosen ’10’, the Frenchman’s number at Juventus and in France, and Sanchís Jr. had just released ‘5’. The club convinced him of the historicity of the central defender, and with this number ZZ played all his years in white. Dorsal of the historic center, which carried among others, in addition to the aforementioned Sanchís, Santamaría or Benito.
Nacho and the 6… of Adebayor
The team’s ‘One club man’ has for years defended a number that has not been defined between a defender like him and a midfielder. However, in Madrid, they brought him forwards like Adolfo Aldana and even Emmanuel Adebayor. It was also worn by the legendary Predrag Spasic.
The mythical 7… of Mariano
Perhaps the most mythical number in the history of Madrid. From Kopa to Cristiano, via Amancio, Juanito or Butragueño. Mariano also took advantage of it, who took the plunge to reap such a heavy legacy after the departure of CR7. It didn’t go too well for him. Now Hazard is trying to take off with a legendary number on his back.
Kroos raises the ‘8’
Few Madrid footballers have given a Madrid number as much prestige as Kroos does with the number ‘8’, the same number Michel has worn for most of his career. It’s a number steeped in history: Molowny, Rial, Grosso, Breitner, Schuster, MbManaman,… and Fernando Gago.
The legend of the ‘9’
He belonged to Di Stéfano, to Santillana and now belongs to Benzema, who did not hesitate to take him when Cristiano left him to go to the 7 he had at United and Portugal. Curiously, Fernando Hierro took him on in the early 90s, when he was more of a midfielder with a lot of arrival (and goals) than the excellent central defender of his last years at the club.
10: from Modric to Lass
The Croatian took the “10” in Madrid in 2017 (before wearing 19), and is already part of the elite of players who have worn this number, the same as that worn by Puskas and then by Velázquez. But it has not always been so. Before Luka, players who had promised but had not met expectations, such as James, Özil, Sneijder, Robinho or Lass Diarra.
With the 11, Gento, Bale… and Carvalho
Another of Madrid’s historic numbers, made legendary by Paco Gento with his six European Cups. A tradition inherited from Gareth Bale, who won the highest continental competition five times. A number of talented footballers, like Ronaldo, Robben, Owen or Cunningham, but who also carried central defenders like Carvalho and corridors like Villarroya. Now it belongs to Asensio.
Marcelo raises the 12
When he arrived in Madrid, the ‘3’ belonged to Roberto Carlos, and the former captain chose the ’12’ and stayed with it for almost two decades, while Pepe inherited a more typical number from a winger than a centre-back. Marcelo’s career is incomparable with most of his predecessors, including footballers like Pablo García, Secretary, Petkovic or Mino.
Santillana, fearless of ’13
Usual number of second guardians in recent years, and number laden with superstitious prejudices. Despite everything, Santillana did not hesitate to defend it in 85-86, after the arrival of Hugo Sánchez at the club to take over the ‘9’.
The class of ’14’
Today in the hands of Casemiro, the ’14’ popularized by Johan Cruyff with the Netherlands has been in very illustrious hands in the history of Madrid: Xabi Alonso, Guti, Milla, Hagi, Jankovic… Even Del Bosque wore it in the 81-82, when he was stripped of his historic ‘6’.
’15’, from Coentrao to Fede
It’s not a traditional number at Madrid, although Valverde has given it prominence in recent seasons. Its former owners were Theo Hernández and Fabio Coentrao, two left-backs who succumbed to Marcelo’s reign. It was also worn by footballers like Drenthe, Raúl Bravo or Geremi.
The ’16’, vacant
Now free after the departure of Luka Jovic to Fiorentina. The Serb did not do well, like most carriers of a number without much history. Kovacic, Lucas Silva, Altintop, Canales, Heinze or Gravesen were some of its carriers.
The ’17 of ‘Van Gol’
Ruud Van Nistelrooy was, between 2006 and 2010, the most outstanding player with the number ’17’, now in the hands of Lucas Vázquez.
Now he belongs to Tchouaméni, but one day he was taken by what was perhaps the most ‘random’ signing in Madrid’s history: Faubert.
’19’, Modric’s anomaly
The Croatian wore it from his arrival in Madrid in 2013 until 2017. His importance can’t be compared to the rest of the wearers of this number, like Garay, Huntellar, Baptista or Cassano.
The ’20’, from Asensio to Vini
The Brazilian inherited it when Asensio took the ‘1’1 from an increasingly out of sight Bale. Before he distinguished himself with him especially Higuain.
’21’, from Solari to Rodrygo
In the galactic Madrid, Solari was forced to take a somewhat strange number, but with which he made an appreciable career within the club. The rest of its carriers, whom Rodrygo represents today, are not doing so well: Odegaard, Morata, Cheryshev, Pedro León…
Good vibes from ’22’
Now it is in the hands of Rüdiger, but he had a good list of players with notable careers at the club. Like Isco, Di María, Karembeu or Illgner. The ex-Chelsea player would have preferred ‘2’, but that number belongs exclusively to Carvajal.
Jordan, Beckham and the ’23’
When Becks arrived in Madrid, the ‘7’ was in Raúl’s hands, which was not debatable. The club convinced the Englishman that the number ’23’, the one worn by Michael Jordan during his reign with the Chicago Bulls, was the right one for him. Marketing-wise, it was a success. Eb the sporty thing, not so much. Mendy is wearing it today.
From Makekele to Mariano
The Frenchman wore this odd number during his four years at Madrid, possibly to continue the ’23’ streak he had at Celta before being signed by the white club. Later, at Chelsea and PSG, he wore the ‘4’, more in keeping with his position and a role that Madrid sorely missed after his controversial departure from the club.
’25’, not just goalkeepers
Although most of the players who have worn it in Madrid have been goalkeepers, it currently belongs to Camavinga. Vini wore it before Courtois, who was not allowed by La Liga to wear the ‘1’ in his first year at Madrid. Before him Diego López, Dudek and even Casillas in his early years with the team.