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Squad number

In team sports, the squad number, shirt number, jersey number, sweater number, or uniform number is the number worn on a player's outfit. The number is typically displayed on the rear of the jersey, often accompanied by the surname, and sometimes it is displayed on the front also. It is used to identify the player to officials, other players, and official scorers; in some sports, it is also indicative of the player's position.

Football (soccer)
In football (soccer), the first advent of players wearing numbered shirts came on 25 August 1928, when Arsenal and Chelsea wore numbered shirts in their matches against The Wednesday (renamed Sheffield Wednesday soon after) and Swansea Town, respectively. After a number of experiments with the system - which met with opposition on the basis that numbers on shirts would "spoil club colours", it was decided to make them a permanent feature. The eleven players starting a match would wear shirts numbered from one to eleven, and a player could find himself wearing a range of different numbers over the course of a season. A football striker wearing the number 10 shirt, traditionally employed by players of his position. Although there were no hard and fast rules as to which number represented which position (especially given football's varied formations), a de facto standard emerged over time and was employed by most teams, with few exceptions: Goalkeepers generally wore the number 1 shirt. This convention has become almost universal. Defenders generally wore numbers between 2 and 6. Midfielders most commonly wore numbers 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 (11 and 7 were typically used for the left and right wings, respectively). Strikers wore 9 and 10, and less commonly 7, 8 and 11. When substitutions were introduced to the game in the 1965, the substitute typically took the number 12; when a second substitute was allowed, they wore 14. Players were not compelled to wear the number 13 if they were superstitious. The move to a fixed number being assigned to each player in a squad was initiated for the 1954 World Cup where each man in a country's 22-man squad wore a specific number for

the duration of the tournament. As a result, the numbers 12 to 22 were assigned to different squad players, with no resemblance to their on-field positions. This meant that a team could start a match not necessarily fielding players wearing numbers one to eleven. Although the numbers one to eleven tended to be given to those players deemed to be the "first choice line-up", this was not always the case for a variety of reasons - a famous example was Johan Cruyff, who insisted on wearing the number 14 shirt. Argentina defied conventions by numbering their squads for the 1978 and 1982 World Cups alphabetically, resulting in outfield players (not goalkeepers) wearing the number 1 shirt. More recently tournament regulations have stated number 1 must be issued to a goalkeeper. The first European football association to introduce this squad numbering system for league football was England, which introduced squad numbers (and names printed above the numbers) for the 1993 English League Cup final between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday. It became standard in the FA Premier League the following season, and most European top leagues adopted the system over the next five years. Players may now wear any number (as long as it is unique within their squad) between 1 and 99. In 2003, FC Porto goalkeeper Vtor Baa became the first player to wear 99 in the final of a major European competition. Hicham Zerouali was allowed to wear the number 0 for Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen F.C. after the fans nicknamed him "Zero". Players are not generally allowed to change their number during a season, although a player may end up with a new number if he changes clubs mid-season and his new club already has a player wearing the number he wore with his former club. Players may change numbers between seasons - a move from a high number to a number in the range one to eleven may be seen as an indication that the club thinks the player is likely to be a regular starter for the coming season. The typical numbering given above comes from the days when the 2-3-5 formation was used. With the convention of numbering from the back forwards and from right to left across each line the numbering is: 1. Goalkeeeper 2. Right full back (right back) 3. Left full back (left back) 4. Right half back (right half) 5. Centre half back (centre half) 6. Left half back (left half) 7. Outside right (right winger) 8. Inside right 9. Centre Forward 10. Inside left 11. Outside left (left winger) Early evolutions of formations involved moving specific positions, e.g. moving the centre half back to become a defender rather than a half back. Their numbers went with them, hence central defenders wearing number 5. You can still see the effects of this system in operation. For example, in friendly and championship qualifying matches England, when playing the 4-4-2 formation, general number their players (using the standard right to left

system of listing football teams) 4 defenders - 2,5,6,3; 4 midfielders - 7,4,8,11; 2 forwards - 9,10. Similarly the Swedish national team number their players: 1. Goalkeeeper 2. Right back 3. Right centre back 4. Left cenre back 5. Left back 6. Defensive midfield 7. Right midfield 8. Centre midfield 9. Left midfield 10. Striker 11. Striker Shirts of special significance Over the years certain shirt numbers have developed a significance for a football club or national team. This is usually because it was the number of a particularly great player, and it is considered an honour to wear the same shirt that that player wore. (This is a different approach to the practice of retiring numbers.)

Rugby codes
When included in the starting lineup, a player's rugby shirt number determines their position rigidly in both codes of the game (except in the Super League, which uses unique squad numbering in the same way as the soccer examples cited above). Indeed rugby union has a position named simply for the shirt worn by that player, the "Number 8".

Cricket introduced player numbering for the Cricket World Cup in 1999, where the captains wore the number 1 jersey and the rest of the squad was numbered between 2 and 14. The rules have since been relaxed to allow any player to wear a number between 1 and 99 in one-day cricket and other short forms of the game. In test cricket, a player making his debut is given a number along with his test cap. The number is in the order a player makes his test debut. If two or more players make their debut in the same match, they are given numbers alphabetically based on surname. For example, Thomas Armitage is Test player #1 for England. He made his debut in the very first Test Match, against Australia, on March 15, 1877. Sajid Mahmood is the most recent debutante for England, making his debut on May 11, 2006 against Sri Lanka. He is Test player #633 for England. This number can be found on a player's Test uniform, but it is usually in small type on the front, rather than displayed prominently on his back.

American basketball leagues at all levels traditionally use single and double digits between 0 and 5 (i.e. 0, 00, 1-5, 10-15, 20-25, 30-35, 40-45, and 50-55), and many high

school and college level leagues mandate that only these numbers be used. This eases non-verbal communication between referees and the official scorer. The National Basketball Association has always allowed other numbers between 0 and 99, but numbers outside the traditional ranges are somewhat unusual. Customarily, especially at high school and lower levels, uniform numbers are higher on phyisically larger uniforms, so centers and power forwards, typically the tallest players on their teams, tend to wear higher uniform numbers, but this is by no means an infalliable rule. Players in FIBAsanctioned contests, including the Olympic Games wear numbers between 4 and 15, inclusive.

Other sports
Other sports which feature players with numbered shirts, but where the number that may be worn is not relevant to the player's position and role are: Australian rules football Baseball Field hockey Ice hockey Volleyball

At one time, a baseball player's number was specifically related to his place in the batting lineup. The regular starting eight wore numbers 1 through 8, while the backup catcher wore number 9. Starting pitchers generally took numbers 10, 11, 12, and 14, (avoiding the superstitious #13, although some pitchers tried it), while reserve pitchers and position players took the remaining numbers, 15 through 26. Even to this day, low numbers are generally associated with being an everyday player, and many players try to get one, no matter what it is. This is also due to the fact that in Spring Training, minor league players unlikely to make the roster are usually given very high numbers, and many players feel that the higher the number, the less likely you are to make the team after Spring Training. Other players have become attached to a specific number, for whatever reason, and try to acquire it as they go from club to club, sometimes needing to "bribe" the number's current owner on his new team.

Retired numbers
Retiring a player's number is an award bestowed on a successful player, usually after the player has left the team or quit the game. It honors a player who has meant so much to his team that he has "given it the shirt off his back." Their club or franchise will retire the shirt number that the player wore during their time there, meaning no other player is permitted to use that number in the future.

It is also a common practice for teams to take certain numbers out of circulation without formally retiring them. However, it is generally understood in these cases that these numbers will not be worn again. Although the practice originated in, and is still mostly restricted to US sports, some football (soccer) clubs have started doing this as squad numbers have become common. A.S. Roma, A.C. Milan, Napoli, Manchester City and Olympique Lyonnais have all recently retired shirt numbers. International teams Argentina and Cameroon attempted to retire the numbers of Diego Maradona and Marc-Vivien Fo respectively but were prevented from doing so by FIFA. Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in Major League Baseball, had his number retired for every franchise (although those players who were wearing the number at the time were permitted to retain it for the duration of their careers as of the 2006 season, Mariano Rivera is the only remaining active player wearing the number). In 1999 Wayne Gretzky's number 99 was likewise retired by the National Hockey League on his retirement from the game.