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15 Popular Football Teams That Retired Shirt Numbers

Maradona number 10 Napoli football clubs that retired numbers

Sporting teams have a special tradition of retiring a player’s number. This means that the jersey number of that particular player will no longer be assigned for use by any player.

This honour is usually extended to players who have made a huge impact in their club. Sometimes it could be that the player passed away prematurely or the fact that their performances were so positively impactful on the fortunes of the club.

Many football clubs also observe this tradition; today, we will look at some of them. Here are some of the famous football teams that retired numbers.

1. Napoli 

Maradona number 10 Napoli football clubs that retired numbers

Italian side Napoli, in 2000, officially retired their number 10 jersey in honor of their former player and captain, the late great Diego Maradona. 

Maradona featured for the Partenopei for roughly seven seasons leading them to their first Serie A title in the 1986/87 season. 

Diego scored 115 goals in 259 appearances for the Naples club. The Argentine’s time with the club was the most successful period in their history. 

The 1986 World Cup winner helped them win another Scudetto title in the 1989/90 campaign, plus a Coppa Italia in 1986/87 and a UEFA Cup (Europa League) triumph in 1988/89. 

Maradona’s legendary status in Napoli is unmatched due to the love and bond he shared with the fans.

2. Manchester City

Famous footballers to wear number 23 jersey

Manchester retired the number 23 jersey after their player Marc-Vivien Foé of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, during an international match with Cameroon.

Foé was loaned to Manchester City from Lyon in the 2002/03 season for a fee of £550,000. 

In the semi-finals of the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, Foé collapsed on the pitch and passed away shortly afterward despite attempts to resuscitate him.

To date, Manchester City has not assigned the number 23 to any player.

Lens also retired their number 17 for Marc-Vivien Foé.

3. Ajax

Dutch giants Ajax have retired the number 14 and 34 jerseys.

The number 14 jersey at Ajax was retired after their legend Johan Cruyff. Cruyff won a lot of trophies for Ajax and revolutionized their football. 

Ajax also retired their number 34 jersey in honour of Abdelhak Nouri. Nouri collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrhythmia attack during a pre-season match against Werder Bremen. He recovered eventually, but is able to move his mouth and eyebrows.

The club paid for his medical bills and retired his number 34 shirt.

4. Inter Milan

Javier Zanetti number 4 jersey

Inter Milan have also retired two jersey numbers in their history.

After their legendary left-back Giacinto Facchetti retired and died, his number 3 jersey was posthumously retired.

The Italian cubs also retired the number 4 jersey after their club legend Javier Zanetti retired.

5. AC Milan

Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini

AC Milan retired the number 3 jersey in honour of their one-club man Paolo Maldini.

Paolo Maldini, who is regarded as one of the greatest full-backs of all time, played for AC Milan throughout his career and won a plethora of titles at the club. 

AC Milan also retired the number 6 jersey after the retirement of club legend Franco Baresi.

6. Atalanta

Serie A top flight club side Atalanta retired the number 14 jersey in honor of their former player Federico Pisani who died in a tragic car accident aged just 22.

Pisani was on the books of the Italian side between 1992-1997. He made 64 league appearances scoring six goals.

On the night of the 12th of February, 1997, Federico was returning from a night out with friends when he crashed his car, killing him almost instantly. 

La Dea decided to pay tribute to him by retiring his number.

7. São Paulo

Rogério Ceni 01 jersey retired

Brazilian club São Paulo retired jersey number 01 in honour of club legend Rogério Ceni. 

Rogério Ceni is regarded as one of the all-time greatest Brazilian goalkeepers and holds the record for the goalkeeper to have scored the most goals in the history of football.

Oddly enough, Ceni wore the double digit 01 in his playing career. Although the single-digit ‘1’ may still be used by São Paulo, the iconic ’01’, which is an inverted ’10’, was retired by the club.

8. West Ham United

West Ham United retired the number 6 jersey of one their greatest ever players, Bobby Moore. The English defender who won the 1966 FIFA World Cup played over 500 games for West Ham.

West Ham also retired the number 38 jersey posthumously in honour of Dylan Tombides. 

Dylan Tombides was an Australian player who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and died at the age of 20.

9. Benfica

Portuguese club Benfica retired the number 29 jersey worn by Miklós Fehér after he died of a cardiac arrest during a match between Vitória de Guimarães and his team Benfica in Portugal.

Benfica retired the number 29 shirt, which the Hungarian footballer wore during his time at the club.

10. Shakhtar Donetsk 

The Ukrainian top-flight side retired the number 33 jersey won by club legend Darijo Srna. 

Darijo played for Shakhtar for over 15 seasons between 2003-2018. The Croatian right-back played 339 games for Donetsk, scoring 33 goals.

Srna was highly regarded at the Ukrainian club to the extent that he was dubbed the club icon. 

The 40-year-old won many domestic titles with them, plus a UEFA Cup title in the 2008/09 season.

His number was retired soon after he left the club in 2018.  

11. Wolfsburg

The German side retired the number 19 jersey following the tragic death of their player Junior Malanda in a car crash in 2015.

Malanda, at the time, was a young up-and-coming defensive midfielder who had just moved to Wolfsburg after impressive stints in his native Belgium.

Junior died in a car accident in Northern Germany on the 15th of January, 2015.

12. Real Betis

Spanish club Real Betis retired the number 26 jersey posthumously in honour of Miki Roqué, their defender who died of pelvic cancer at the age of 23.

13. Espanyol

Another Spanish club that retired numbers is Espanyol. Espanyol retired the number 21 jersey in memory of Daniel Jarque, who was the team’s captain one month before his death from a heart attack aged 26.

14. Nantes

French Ligue 1 club FC Nantes retired their number 9 jersey in honour of Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash on his way to join Cardiff City.

15. Xanthi FC 

The Greek club side retired the number 13 jersey in honor of Nigerian international Olubayo Adefemi, who died tragically in a car accident in 2011. 

Adefemi was a right back on the books of Xanthi, who he joined in 2010. The 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medalist died on the 18th of April 2011 in Kavala, Greece few weeks before his wedding.

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