The Soccer Number Positions And Player Roles Explained

Soccer Number Positions

Soccer numbering is implemented to classify each player’s role from one another, with each number on a player’s shirt signifying a player’s important role or responsibility on the pitch.

The beautiful game of soccer has existed for many decades, with different tactical preferences and innovations adopted by managers all come and gone.

Yet the stark reality about the classic shirt numbering and role still remains the same because it’s what forms the basis of the game’s conventional numbering standard of the 1-11 system, even though modern soccer has moved away from the traditional numbering with players now adopting unconventional and unorthodox number.

The conventional numbering standard 1-11 system in soccer:

1. Goalkeeper

2. Right-back

3. Left-back

4. Centre-back

5. Centre-back

6. Defensive or Holding midfielder

7. Right midfielder or Right winger

8. Central or Box-to-Box midfielder

9. Striker

10. Attacking midfielder or Playmaker

11. Left midfielder or Left winger

Positions & Roles In Soccer

As enjoyable as the game of soccer is, every soccer position and player operating in that role on the pitch has a different job they must carry out while on the pitch for the team to achieve the needed result.

Defensive Soccer Positions

These are the major soccer defensive positions and the numbers usually associated with them:

Goalkeeper – (GK, 1)

The soccer number position for a goalkeeper is number 1.

In soccer, the goalie is the last line of defense that stop the opposing team from scoring; the player’s role on the pitch is to protect the team from conceding when the opponent attack.

The goalie, as some will call them, are the only player permitted to use their hands and arms to block the shots and pick up the ball while the game is in play in a designated area according to the rules of the game. 

With modern soccer now moving away from the traditional numbering, we’ve seen goalkeepers don a different number on their jersey.

However, then the basic standard and trait of that position remain unchanged. You can find out the best goalkeepers in the world.

Centre-backs – (CB, 4 and 5)

In typical soccer number positions for the centre-backs are numbers 4 and 5.

Defenders include the two center-backs and two fullbacks in every team, and with this personnel on the pitch, their sole responsibility is to protect the goalkeeper, block the attacking threat of the opponent, and also cut the free-flow passing of the opponent.

In a 4-4-2 soccer formation, the two center-backs are usually very important to a team’s defensive fluidity and prowess because they serve as the soul of a team defensively lining up in front of a goalkeeper.

When the team is on the ascendency attacking-wise, one of the center-back, more often than not, goes upfield to help the team get a goal via a set-piece and also track back to do his primary assignment, which is to protect the opposing team from scoring.

Sweeper – (SW, 5)

The term ‘Sweeper’ has existed since the 19th century, when it was first used to denote any ball that gets past the other defender.

The job of a sweeper is to sweep up the ball or counter any attack that might get past the defensive backs, even though it’s not been used anymore with modern tactical preference and innovation now the order of the day with three center-back and wing-backs. Another defensive position that is less known in soccer is the stopper.

Right-backs – (RB, 2)

For every team that is set to play on the pitch, is an essential part of a team’s defensive structure.

The number usually associated with the right-back position in soccer is the number 2

Just as the primary assignment of a center-back is to protect the team, the same goes for the right fullback, also right from their wide position on the pitch.

As a right fullback, they’re also tasked with moving up and down the pitch to help with the offensive play of a team and also track back when the team is defending.

You should find out who the best soccer right-backs in world are 

Left-back – (LB, 3)

There number that is associated with the left-back position in soccer is the number 3. Hence, the number 3 shirt is often reserved for a left fullback in a team.

They are the ones in charge of protecting the left rear of the team’s defense on the pitch.

Left fullbacks are very renowned for their fluidity and prowess in bumping forward when the team is attacking, and they are also tasked with tracking back to help protect the team defensively.

Here are the best left-backs in the world of soccer right now.

Midfield Soccer Positions

Midfielders in soccer are, more often than not, referred to as the engine that controls a team, connecting the defensive and offensive lines of every team by transitioning the ball and making sure everything is moving smoothly right from the middle of the pack.

These players are the link between the defense and attack of every team. Midfielders must also be physically fit because they’re expected to run the most in a game whilst they run and penetrate deep into the opposition’s territory.

In the midfield, the positions include a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder, and right and left midfielders.

These are the major soccer positions in the midfield and the numbers usually associated with them:

Defensive Midfielder – (DM, 6)

The number usually associated with the defensive or holding midfield position in soccer is the number 6.  

The defensive midfielder role or position is one of the most critical parts of a soccer team; they’re also known as holding midfielders because they play directly in front of the defenders.

The primary assignment of the defensive midfielder is to keep the ball, protect the team, intercept opposing team passes, get the ball from the opponent and help their offensive line by keeping the ball in the opposing team zone.

When a defensive midfielder is absent from a team, the team often struggles defensively, and they usually find it difficult to escape the attacking threat of an opposing team which gives credence to how vital a holding midfielder is in a team.

Central Midfielder – (CM, 8)

The number usually associated with the central midfield position in soccer is the number 8.  

The number 8 role or position is often considered in soccer the most demanding role because the player marshalling that position must possess both defensive and offensive traits.

Some of them are known as box-to-box midfielders, because they constantly move their own box to their opponents box.

They’re also often tasked with distributing the ball to other players on the pitch due to their exceptional vision, ball control, and defense-splitting passes skill.

They can also play behind a striker or a supporting striker, as the case may be on the pitch.

Attacking Midfielder – (AM, 10)

The soccer number position for a goalkeeper is number 10.

The attacking midfielder is well renowned for being the brain or engine room of a team due to the brilliant quality they possess when they sit in the middle of the pack and control the affairs of the team.

As the conductor of every team, they’re also tasked with creating, scoring, and dictating the pace of play from their position, which is one of the important positions in the beautiful game of soccer.

Here are the best soccer midfielders in the world today.

Attacking Soccer Positions

Depending on the soccer formation used, the number of players in the attack can vary from 1 to 3. However, here are the major soccer attacking positions and the numbers usually associated with them

Right Winger – (RM, 7)

The number usually associated with the right winger midfield position in soccer is the number 7; therefore right-wingers are normally wearing the number 7 jersey.

Right wingers are also known as right midfielders because they usually hug the byline or stay wide, helping the team attack the opponent’s defense with their dribbling prowess on the ball.

The wingers are also often tasked with creating scoring chances for their team because of the dribbling skills they possess, which helps them in taking on one or more players on the pitch when the team is on the ascendency.

Read our article on the best right-wingers in the world.

Left Winger – (LM, 11)

The number typically associated with the left winger position in soccer is the number 11. Most right-wingers are usually given the number 11 jersey.

The left winger position is almost the same thing as the right winger, and the difference is that they operate from a different positions.

It is a position that requires a lot of fitness and power to help the team both defensively and offensively.

Top-notch dribbling skills and being nippy on the ball are some of the traits a left or right winger must possess, which helps the player get around opposing left or right-back and also serve his team right crosses when attacking.

When the team is on the ascendency, the job of a left winger, as the case may be, is to stay wide; staying wide helps in stretching the opponent’s defense in order to create scoring opportunities for the team.

You can find out who the best left-wingers in the world are.

Centre Forward – (CF, 9)

In soccer, the number 9 the number that is mainly associated with the striker. It is almost certain that the strikers, in any soccer team, wears the number 9 jersey.

The striker or forward’s role is the attacking position in the game of soccer because they play close to the opponent’s goalpost. 

In every team, the primary objective of a striker is to score and also get to create scoring opportunities for his teammates

As a striker or center-forward, it’s imperative to possess all necessary traits as a goal-scorer.

Their primary objective is to score goals or create them for teammates. A center-forward, also known as a striker, should be a team-leading goal-scorer and the most lethal player in the attacking third on the field.

As a striker or center-forward, the player must have good ball control ability to receive the ball and keep control of it. The finishing prowess of a center-forward or striker must also be top-notch because when they’re faced with an opposing goalkeeper, the traits of a good finisher should always come to the fore.

Here are the best strikers in the world.


Soccer Number Positions
The soccer positions and their numbers in a 4-3-3 formation.
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