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Famous Soccer Players With The Number 2 Jersey

The number two jersey is most commonly associated with the right-back position in soccer. Long before modern managers made use of the two full-back positions for a more attacking lineup, the right-back was often considered the least glamorous role on the soccer pitch. 

Modern full-backs, such as Trent Alexander-Arnold or Kyle Walker, are now well-versed in attacking and used to devastating effect by their respective managers.

Most right-backs would have sat in their position at one stage, waiting for an attacker to venture into their area. A modern right-back has to be a defender, a midfielder, and a winger all rolled into one. 

Today we’ll look at seven of the best soccer players who wore the number two jersey, and they all had one thing in common; all of them stood out from the pack.

Some of the best defenders in soccer wore the number two jersey, often for the biggest clubs in world soccer, and today, we’re going to see what made these players so special. 

Here are the 7 best soccer players who have worn the number 2 jersey.

7. Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid & Uruguay 

Diego Godin, the most capped Uruguayan soccer player of all time, is one of the best center-backs Spain has seen in decades.

He’s not the quickest defender around, but he is one of the most tactically astute, aggressive, and focused defenders in the game. After three superb seasons at Villareal, Godin was sold to Atletico Madrid, and it was a match made in heaven. 

Atletico is known for its aggressive, physically demanding style, and that suited Godin perfectly. A tough-tackling player like Godin fitted in well at the Madrid club, and his leadership qualities, combined with his superb work ethic, quickly made him a fan favorite.

Godin would help Atletico to eight trophies during his nine seasons with the club, including the 2013-14 La Liga. 

For Uruguay, Godin has been a mainstay for almost two decades, having made his debut in 2005 at the age of 19. Fast forward to 2023, and the defender is the most capped player in his country’s history.

Aged 35 now, Godin still has life left in him and could well make another international tournament. 

6. Clint Dempsey – Tottenham Hotspur & USA 

Okay, forget everything we said about the number two jersey being for right-backs because our next player, American legend Clint Dempsey, was a striker.

An excellent striker, too, with 129 league goals for teams such as New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders in the MLS and Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. 

In our defense, Demsey did, on occasion, wear other jersey numbers, including the 8, which is more befitting an attacker, but while at Tottenham and Seattle Sounders, the USA international wore the number 2 jersey. 

Dempsey was an incredibly versatile player who was the highest-earning US soccer player of all time and was an integral part of the Fulham side that made it to the 2010 Europa League final.

At times a little too flamboyant, Dempsey did try tricks and flicks on the pitch, many of which didn’t work, but when they did pay off, the result was often a world-class goal. 

His chip against Juventus was a delightful piece of invention and typical of the hugely talented player. Dempsey would finish his international career with 141 caps and is the joint-highest goalscorer for the US national team with 57 goals. 

5. Kyle Walker – Manchester City & England 

One of the best number 2s currently playing soccer, England’s Kyle Walker is one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

The Manchester City right-back is lightning-fast, versatile, and incredibly consistent. After impressing for his boyhood club, Sheffield United, Walker was bought by Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur in 2009, where he spent seven seasons. 

It’s his next move to Manchester City, where Walker’s reputation as one of the best right-backs in soccer was forged. Since his 2017 move to Manchester, the England international has won four Premier League titles, four League Cups, and the FA Cup. 

Thanks to his incredible pace, Walker is just as threatening going forwards as he is bearing down on attackers in his own half of the pitch.

There’s nothing a defender hates more than pace, and Walker has it in abundance. It makes him hard to beat as a defender and a frightening sight when flying up the right wing to offer crosses for his teammates to score. 

4. Lilian Thuram – Juventus & France 

French international legend Lilian Thuram was one of his generation’s most athletic, focused defenders.

Without the ball, Thuram was a rugged, aggressive player; with it, he was elegant and composed. Thuram played for only four clubs in his professional career but managed over 500 league appearances. 

For a time, the former France International was the most-capped Frenchman of all time, with an astonishing 142 caps. An integral part of the France team that won the 198 FIFA World Cup, Thuram was a superb soccer player, big, strong, and explosive.

As well as being excellent going forwards as an attacking full-back, Thuram was a nightmarish opponent to get past, thanks to his aggressive man-marking.

Often included in lists of the greatest defenders of all time, Thuram had everything a defender needs to excel; pace, power, upper body strength, and a will to win that was evident every time he took to the field. 

3. Gary Neville – Manchester United & England 

Gary Neville may be better known to younger soccer fans as the Sky Sports pundit with an opinion on everything and anything.

To soccer fans during the Manchester United heyday under Sir Alex Ferguson, he’ll be remembered as a world-class right-back with a view on anything and everything. 

A one-club-player, Neville joined Manchester United as a youth player in 1991 and would remain fiercely loyal for the next two decades. Neville would eventually become the club captain and helped United to eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, and two Champions League titles. 

One of the most decorated English players in history, Neville had a desire, determination to win, and a ruthless streak that made him stand head and shoulders above the competition.

A passionate Manchester United fan, every time Neville donned the jersey, he gave 110% and demanded that everyone around him gave the same. With 8 Premier League titles, only his former teammates Giggs and Scholes have more Premier League titles than him.

Gary Neville was part of the young crop of players that came through the Manchester United youth ranks together and drew comparisons to the Busby Babes of the 1950s. Alongside Gary were David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and Gary’s younger brother Phil. 

This core of players would go on to become one of the greatest club sides the English leagues have ever seen, and at the front, demanding the best would be Gary Neville. 

2. Cafu – AC Milan & Brazil 

There’s something about players who wear the number 2 jersey that seems to keep them playing soccer for decades. Brazilian legend Cafu, the most-capped Brazilian of all time, is another right-back whose career lasted almost two decades. The player became one of the best right-backs in history. 

After eight years as a professional player, it was only when he moved to Roma in 1997 that Cafu hit his stride, and he quickly became integral to Roma’s 2000-2001 Serie A title victory. A revolutionary in his day, Cafu was playing like a modern attacking full-back before the role even existed. 

A combination of factors helped the Brazilian; he had incredible stamina and could run for days. His passing was superb, and he used it to significant effect when flying down the right wing and crossing in for teammates.

Cafu was also incredibly cheerful and looked like he loved every second of his career, something that made the fans love the player even more. Today, he is still regarded as one of the best defenders in soccer history.

A two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, Cafu also won the Confederations Cup and two Copa America trophies. Given the genuinely outstanding players that Brazil has had at its disposal over the years, it’s a testament to just how good Cafu was that he remains the most-capped Brazil player of all time. 

1. Dani Alves – Barcelona & Brazil 

It wasn’t hard to find the greatest player ever to wear the number 2 jersey; Dani Alves is the most decorated soccer player in history, with an astounding 46 titles to his name.

To put that figure into perspective, there are many elite clubs where the entire roster of players hasn’t won 46 titles between them. 

As well as being the most decorated player of all time, Alves is also regarded, and rightly so, as the greatest right-back of all time. Combining pace, athleticism, and attacking flair, Alves was the most potent attacking right-back of his era.

His tenacious style of play, combined with an ability to dispossess an opponent and then charge upfield with the ball, made Alves invaluable to club and country. 

Alves has won titles and trophies wherever he’s played, but it’s his spell at Barcelona that proved his most successful, with the Brazilian legend helping the Catalan club secure six La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, and dozens of other domestic and international trophies. 

Incredibly, despite his longevity, and given that he plays his international soccer for one of the most successful soccer nations in history, Alves has never won the World Cup with Brazil.

With Alves as the right-back, Brazil has won two Copa America trophies, a Confederations Cup, and the 2020 Summer Olympics, but the coveted World Cup trophy is one of the very, very few to have eluded the prolific winner. 

When we compare the careers of all other players who have worn the number 2 jersey, there’s really no comparison; Alves’s success as a player is beyond compare.

Combined with his skill, determination, and the fact that Alves has so many trophies, you’d take a month to polish them all; the Brazilian has to be the greatest player to wear the number 2 jersey of all time.