Radamel Falcao joins football’s shirt number crime list with Rayo Vallecano move

The Colombian striker has secured an eye-catching move to La Liga minnows Rayo Vallecano but his choice of shirt number will raise a few eyebrows and reminded us of similar quirks

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Radamel Falcao has completed his transfer to Rayo Vallecano after leaving Turkish giants Galatasaray.

The Colombian striker will join the newly promoted La Liga for this campaign as he looks to build on the 331 goals he has scored across his senior career.

Falcao has already enjoyed two hugely successful seasons in the Spanish capital, when he netted 70 goals across two campaigns at Atletico Madrid between 2011 and 2013.

His late registration with Rayo means that the striker who is synonymous with the number 9 shirt across his career will instead be wearing the number 3 at the Spanish club – the shirt usually reserved for left-backs.

This is a shirt crime in the eyes of football traditionalists who believe that this number looks wrong and is unnatural for a striker.

With that in mind, Mirror Football looks at some of the most eye-catching football shirt numbers.

Radamel Falcao will wear the number 3 shirt at Rayo Vallecano after leaving Galatasaray

Ivan Zamorano

The Chilean striker Ivan ‘Bam Bam’ Zamorano was one of the greatest strikers of the 1990s but he had to move aside when he was joined at Inter by Brazilian phenomenon Ronaldo.

The two struck up an exciting striking partnership but Ronaldo was afforded the number 9, previously of Zamorano, who instead had an innovative solution.

Rather than wearing a different number, Zamorano instead wore 1+8 – meaning that he still technically had the same number…after some basic mathematics.

Aboubakar Kamara

Aboubakar Kamara wore number 47 at Fulham


Getty Images)

When Fulham signed Aboubakar Kamara from Amiens in 2017, they were surprised when he demanded the number 47 shirt number.

This was instantly explained by the fact that the striker wanted to be referred to as AK-47 – an assault rifle which is officially known as an Avtomat Kalashnikova.

Developed in the Soviet Union by Russian small-arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, it is now one of the most recognised gun models in the world.

NBA player Andrei Kirilenko – who, as you will see, had the same initials – had previously adopted this number, so it was not entirely Kamara’s initiative.

Hicha m Zerouali

Aberdeen secured the signing of Moroccan international Hicham Zerouali (pronounced zero-alley) and was affectionately nicknamed Zero by fans at Pittodrie.

This led to him being given the number 0 by the club the following campaign – the first player to have been given the shirt number – in 2000.

Zerouali was tragically killed in a car accident in 2004, aged just 27.

Derek Riordan

Derek Riordan wears 01 on his shirt for Hibernian


SNS Group)

Sticking to Scotland, Hibs striker Derek Riordan returned to the club in 2008 following a brief stint at Celtic.

The striker was not happy that his number 10 shirt was unavailable as it was occupied by his teammate and fellow striker Colin Nish.

As an alternative, Riordan decided to wear the 01 shirt as a solution – although he did once again inherit the number 10 the following year.

What examples of unusual shirt numbers have we missed? Let us know in the comments below

Milan signings

Mathieu Flamini wore the number 84 shirt at Milan


Claudio Villa)

In the 2008/09 season, Italian giants Milan decided to adapt an unusual strategy when assigning shirt numbers to their new players.

They signed the trio of Ronaldinho from Barcelona, Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal and Andriy Shevchenko from Chelsea – giving them all unusual shirt numbers.

Ronaldinho took 80, Flamini was given the 84 shirt and Shevchenko had 76 – while the later signings of Robinho (83) and Stephan El Shaarawy (92) were similar.

This was due to the year of each of the player’s births – although this policy was soon discontinued.

Bixente Lizarazu

Bixente Lizarazu enjoyed plenty of success with Bayern Munich


Getty Images)

One of the most notable full-backs of the 1990s and early 2000s, Lizarazu took the shirt number policy to a different level.

He wore the number 69 during his second spell at Bayern Munich in 2005, and swiftly qualified that it was not a lewd gesture.

Not only was he born in 1969, but his height was 1.69m and – whether by design or accident – his weight was exactly a rather slim 69kg.

Argentina 1978 and 1982 World Cup squads

Argentina numbered their players alphabetically in both 1978 and 1982 World Cups, leading to Tottenham cult hero Ossie Ardilles having the number 1 shirt in the latter edition.

Goalkeeper Hector Balley wore the number 2 shirt with forwards Daniel Bertoni, Gabriel Calderon and Ramon Diaz occupying shirts 4, 5 and 6 respectively.

There was of course one exception to this rule, with the number 10 worn by Diego Maradona – who was 12 th alphabetically!

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