When you are asked to think of the most iconic numbers that have been worn by legends of soccer, your mind may drift towards the numbers 7, 9, or 10 but perhaps not the number 18.
This unassuming number has actually been worn by some of the finest talents to have ever graced the game and today we’ll be counting down our top 7 number 18s of all time.
7. Bruno Fernandes
The first player on our list may not have reached legend status just yet, but the Portuguese attacking midfielder is already one of the most recognizable players to have had the number 18 on his back.
Fernandes wore 18 during his spells at both Udinese and Sporting Lisbon, where he scored 49 goals in total for the two clubs. The man now of Manchester United also wears 18 for his national team of Portugal, Alongside this, he donned the number during his first three seasons for the Red Devils, in which he scored 39 goals and notched up 25 assists.
At the start of the 2022/23 season, it was announced by Manchester United that Fernandes would be taking the number 8 shirt off the shoulders of Juan Mata, so for now, at least, Bruno no longer wears the number 18.
6. Jordi Alba
Now one of the most famous fullbacks to have ever played the game, the Barcelona legend is well-known for wearing the number 18 during his time with the Catalan giants.
As far as players go, Alba is one of the most loyal servants that you will find in La Liga with him being at Barcelona since the 2012/13 season, with 18 on his back since the start. Whilst in Catalonia Alba has won a total of 15 trophies, including one UEFA Champions League and five La Liga titles.
For his national team of Spain, Alba also wears the number 18 and was a part of the Spanish side that successfully defended the UEFA European Championship title in 2012. Alba also took part in the London Olympic Games in 2012 wearing number 18.
5. Miroslav Klose
One of the most memorable strikers of his generation, the German legend Miroslav Klose wore many different numbers throughout his career. Though he did have the number 18 on his shirt during his most iconic years at German side Bayern Munich.
Klose scored a total of 24 goals during a four-year spell in Bavaria. This may not sound like the kind of numbers that an iconic goal scorer should be reaching, but it was more the manner of Klose’ goals that make him so well remembered.
The German was a ‘fox in the box’ that always had a moment of magic in him, a quality that fans around the world adore.
Perhaps Klose is more famous for wearing number 11 for his country, where he still holds the record for most goals scored in separate world cup’s, with 16 across four tournaments. Klose did briefly wear number 18 for his country in the 2000/01 season though.
4. Dirk Kuyt
Liverpool and Netherlands legend Dirk Kuyt is another cult hero that makes it onto this list. The Dutch dynamo was one of the finest goal poachers in the world during his best years, making him a danger whenever the ball was near the oppositions goal.
Kuyt wore the number 18 during his iconic spell at Liverpool, where he would go on to be part of the League Cup winning squad in 2011/12. During his time in Merseyside Kuyt bagged himself a total of 71 goals in 6 seasons, making 208 appearances for the English club.
Success may have been hard to come by for Liverpool at this time, however, their number 18 was one of the most reliable members of the team for some time.
Whilst on duty with the Dutch national team, Kuyt wore a collection of different numbers including number 18 during both the 2007/08 and 2008/09 seasons.
3. Jurgen Klinsmann
Moving into the top three of our list is another legendary German and a man that is perhaps the country’s most famous goal scorer in its history, the great Jurgen Klinsmann.
Like many strikers, Klinsmann did not wear the number 18 for the entirety of his glittering career but did so during his most iconic season.
When the German signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1994, the English media latched onto his reputation as a diver.
This prompted Klinsmann to perform one of the most iconic celebrations in history following a goal against Sheffield Wednesday on his debut, diving to the floor like the media suggested he did during matches.
Klinsmann would go on to score 21 goals for the North London club before departing for Bayern Munich, where he would also take on the number 18 shirt in the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons.
For his national team, Klinsmann also wore number 18 intermittently during his 11-year international career. The striker scored an impressive 47 goals in 108 appearances for West Germany and later the unified Germany.
2. Roberto Baggio
A player that needs no introduction, the ‘Divine Ponytail’ Roberto Baggio may well be more recognisable as an iconic number 10, however, he did briefly take on the number 18 mantle during his time at AC Milan.
When Baggio signed for the ‘Rossoneri’ in 1995, the number 10 shirt that he had previously worn at Juventus was occupied by Dejan Savicevic of Yugoslavia. This meant that Baggio had to make do with wearing 18 for his first season in red and black.
In 34 appearances during the 1995/96 season, Baggio managed to bag himself 10 goals on the way to winning the Scudetto with Milan, outscoring Savicevic and proving himself worthy of the number 10 shirt for the following season despite his prime years now being behind him.
In a strange turn of events, Baggio only briefly wore the number 10 shirt as well as number 9 for a short period.
Eventually, the Italian found himself back in the number 18 shirt by the end of the season after registering just 9 goals. He would later move to Bologna for the 1997/98 season, where he went straight into the number 10 shirt.
1. Paul Scholes
Unlike some of the players on this list, we finish off with a man that wore the number 18 on his back for the majority of his professional playing career.
Paul Scholes is one of the greatest midfielders to have ever stepped foot on a soccer field and as such it was no contest putting him at the top of our list.
Scholes wore number 18 during his peak years at Manchester United from 1996 all the way up to 2011, the season in which he first retired from the game (he briefly returned in 2012 wearing number 22).
During this incredible period for himself and his club, Scholes was part of a team that won a staggering 26 trophies under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Perhaps Scholes’ most famous moment in the number 18 shirt came in the 2007/08 season, when Manchester United took on the might of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final at Old Trafford.
After a mistake by the Barcelona defence, the ball fell kindly to the oncoming Scholes who thundered the ball into the top corner. The goal was enough to send his team to the Final in Moscow that they later won on penalties against Chelsea.
Do you agree with our list? Or do you have another famous number 18 in mind that we forgot to mention? Either way, we can all admit that the number 18 is a far more iconic number to have on your shirt than we first thought and that some true legends of the game have had the pleasure of wearing it.