Regarding soccer, numbers are significant in identifying players and their positions. And while every number has its own unique history and legacy, one number in particular stands out when it comes to legendary players – number 17. In this article, we will dive deep into the significance of number 17 in soccer and explore some of the most notable players to wear it.

The Significance of Number 17 in Soccer

While the significance of number 17 may differ across different cultures and superstitions, it has undoubtedly been a number that many talented and successful soccer players have chosen to wear throughout their careers. Let’s take a closer look at the history and some of the superstitions associated with this number.

The number 7 tends to be associated with creative attacking players and wingers. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Raul, and many others have worn this legendary number. So why does this matter for number 17? Because many players who are coming up and prefer to wear the number 7 will default to 17 as a secondary “number 7.”

Ronaldo wore 17 briefly while Luis Figo had the number 7 shirt for Portugal, for instance. Kevin DeBruyne would traditionally be a number 7 type player, but started his career with number 17 and stuck with it.

The History of Number 17

The history of the number 17 in soccer is somewhat unclear. While some speculate that it may be related to the total number of teams that originally formed the Football League, others believe that it has roots in numerology and that the number 17 is associated with good luck and spiritual fulfillment in many cultures.

However, one thing is for sure – many legendary soccer players have donned the number 17 jersey throughout history. One example is former Manchester United midfielder Nani wore the number 17 jersey during his time at the club, where he won four Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy.

Superstitions and Beliefs Surrounding Number 17

In Italy, for example, the number 17 is considered unlucky and carries negative connotations. In fact, it is so stigmatized that many Italian hotels, hospitals, and even some apartments skip the number 17 altogether, just like the number 13 in many Western countries.

On the other hand, in Brazil, the number 17 is associated with the Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that is often accompanied by music and dance. Moreover, this number is also believed to represent the union between two people or things, making it suitable for a center-back, whose job is to maintain a strong defense and protect his teammates.

Interestingly, the number 17 has also been associated with some bizarre superstitions in the soccer world. For instance, some soccer players believe that wearing the number 17 jersey will bring them good luck, while others avoid it at all costs, believing that it will bring them bad luck.

Moreover, some soccer clubs have even gone to great lengths to avoid the number 17. For example, in 2002, Italian soccer club Lazio signed Uruguayan striker Marcelo Salas, who had worn the number 17 jersey throughout his career. However, upon joining Lazio, Salas was forced to switch to number 11, as the number 17 was considered unlucky by the club’s management and fans.

In conclusion, the significance of number 17 in soccer may vary depending on the culture and superstitions of the people involved. However, one thing is clear – it has been a number that has been worn by many successful soccer players throughout history, and its mystique and allure continue to fascinate soccer fans around the world.

Legendary Number 17s in European Soccer

European soccer has seen its fair share of legendary players, and number 17 has been a popular choice among many of them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable players to wear this number:

Kevin DeBruyne: Midfield Maestro for Manchester City

Perhaps the best midfielder in the Premier League over the past 5-6 years, Kevin DeBruyne has made his mark as the creative force behind Manchester City’s recent dominant run, winning every major trophy available, as well as 4 out of the last 5 Premier League titles. Despite all of the amazing talent that has come through the door at the Etihad, DeBruyne has remained the most important player for this modern dynasty.

The ultimate creative player, DeBruyne matches unbelievable vision, technical ability, pinpoint passing, and a knack for spectacular goals with a tireless work rate and unrelenting competitiveness. He is definitely the most high profile player currently wearing 17.

Alexis Sanchez: Chilean Star at Arsenal and Barcelona

Alexis Sanchez is one of the most electrifying players to emerge from South America in recent years. The Chilean forward has enjoyed stints with Arsenal, Barcelona, and Manchester United, among others, but it was in the number 17 shirt that he really made a name for himself. At Arsenal, Sanchez was known for his pace, dribbling skills, and eye for goal, and his performances in the number 17 shirt earned him plaudits from fans and pundits alike.

His philanthropic efforts off the field matched Sanchez’s success on the field. In 2017, he launched the Alexis Sanchez Foundation, which aims to help underprivileged children in Chile and around the world. The foundation has funded several projects, including the construction of a school in Tocopilla, Sanchez’s hometown.

Nani: The Portuguese Sensation

Nani is another player who has worn number 17 with great success. The Portuguese winger, who currently plays for Orlando City in Major League Soccer (MLS), has enjoyed stints with Manchester United, Sporting CP, and Valencia. At Manchester United, Nani was an integral part of the team that won the Premier League title in 2011, and he did so while wearing the number 17 shirt.

His international success matched Nani’s success on the field with Portugal. He was a member of the Portuguese team that won the European Championship in 2016, and he scored a crucial goal in the quarterfinals against Poland.

Pedro: The Unsung Hero of Barcelona’s Frontline

Pedro donned the number 17 for Barcelona during their dominant period in the early 2010’s. A rotation player who could play anywhere across the front line, he was able to step in for such legends as David Villa, Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry, and of course the legendary Leo Messi, without Barcelona losing a beat.

He often came off the bench and started when other forwards were injured, and he scored some key goals for Barcelona as they dominated Europe during this time.

Marek Hamsik: Slovakia’s Talented Midfielder

Marek Hamsik is one of Slovakia’s most talented soccer players. The midfielder, who currently plays for IFK Göteborg in Sweden, spent most of his career at Napoli. While at the Italian club, Hamsik wore the number 17 shirt, and he quickly established himself as a fan favorite. Hamsik’s box-to-box play style and eye for goal made him one of the best midfielders in Serie A during his time at Napoli.

His loyalty to Napoli matched Hamsik’s success on the field. He spent 12 seasons at the club, becoming their all-time leading goalscorer and helping them win two Coppa Italia titles. In 2019, he left Napoli to join Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Number 17s in South American Soccer

South American soccer has produced some of the most exciting and talented players in recent memory, and number 17 has been a popular choice among many of them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable number 17s in South American soccer:

Nene: Brazil’s Skillful Attacker

Nene is a Brazilian soccer player who has enjoyed a successful career in both Brazil and Europe. The attacking midfielder, who currently plays for Fluminense in Brazil, wore the number 17 shirt during his stint with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Nene’s ability to create chances and score goals made him one of PSG’s most important players while he wore the number 17 shirt.

Off the field, Nene is known for his love of music. He is an accomplished guitarist and has even released an album in Brazil. In addition, he is a dedicated family man and often shares photos of his wife and children on social media.

Gary Medel: Chile’s Versatile Warrior

Gary Medel is a Chilean soccer player who has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Inter Milan and Sevilla. Medel’s versatility and tenacity have made him a fan favorite wherever he has played, and his performances in the number 17 shirt for Chile have been no exception. Medel’s ability to play in defense or midfield has made him an invaluable asset for the Chilean national team over the years.

Off the field, Medel is known for his love of animals. He has several pets, including a dog and a parrot, and often shares photos of them on social media. In addition, he is a passionate advocate for animal rights and has worked with several organizations to promote animal welfare.

These are just a few of the many talented players who have worn the number 17 shirt in South American soccer. Whether they are defenders, midfielders, or attackers, these players have all left their mark on the game and continue to inspire the next generation of soccer stars.

North American and Asian Number 17s

While number 17 may not be quite as popular in North America and Asia as it is in Europe and South America, some notable players still have worn the number with distinction. Let’s take a closer look:

Jozy Altidore: The United States’ Powerful Forward

Jozy Altidore is an American soccer player who currently plays for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer (MLS). Altidore has also represented the United States national team numerous times and has enjoyed success while wearing the number 17 shirt. Altidore’s physicality and finishing ability have made him one of the best forwards in MLS over the years, and his performances for the United States have earned him a reputation as one of the country’s most dangerous attacking players.

Makoto Hasebe: Japan’s Tireless Midfielder

Makoto Hasebe is a Japanese soccer player who currently plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. Hasebe has represented Japan on over 100 occasions and has worn the number 17 shirt for his country for many of those games. Hasebe’s tireless work rate and ability to read the game have made him one of the best midfielders in Asia, and his performances for Japan have been crucial to the team’s success over the years.


As we have seen, the number 17 holds a special significance for many soccer players, and it has been worn by some of the best players in the history of the sport. Whether it’s because of superstition, numerology, or a personal preference, there is no denying that the number 17 has played an important role in soccer. And while there may be many great players who have worn it before, it’s safe to say that there will be many more in the future who will do it justice.

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