How are football shirt numbers decided?

Many people enjoy watching football and understand the rules of the games perfectly; however, when it comes to knowing how football shirt numbers are decided, many of us are left in the dark.

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Origins of shirt numbers

Footballers in times gone by did not wear numbered shirts. It was only in 1928, during a match between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday, that numbered shirts were introduced. According to Football Bible, the printing of shirt numbers came about to allow referees and fans to easily distinguish players on the pitch.

Starting players had shirts bearing the numbers 1 to 11, based on the position they played on the pitch, with higher numbers assigned to the substitutes.

In 1954, fixed numbers for players – called squad numbers – were introduced. The squad number system is still used today by many top football teams in the world.

Player position

Despite the introduction of the squad numbering system, football team kits, such as those supplied by https://www.kitking.co.uk/, include numbers that denote a first-choice position on the pitch. The traditional number system relates to a 4-2-3-1 formation, so you find number 1 as the goalkeeper, number 2 as the right fullback, number …