There are plenty of iconic jerseys that soccer players can wear, mainly ranging between the number 1 and 11. This being said, a host of great players have chosen to wear alternative numbers over the years.
Today we are going to be exploring one such number, specifically the number 20. We’ll be looking at the greatest players that have worn the number 20 jersey over the years and exploring what makes them deserve a place on this list.
Here are the 7 most famous players who have worn the number 20 jersey.
7. Sergi Roberto
If this list were to be made up of the best players to have worn the number 20, Barcelona full-back Sergi Roberto probably wouldn’t have made the cut.
He almost certainly wouldn’t have been in this list had it not been for the event of March 8th, 2017. In a match now known as ‘La Remontada’, Roberto scored the crucial goal to complete one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history as Barcelona overcame Paris – Saint Germain to progress in the UEFA Champions League.
Roberto’s goal was a simple one at first glance, he simply prodded home with an outstretched leg following a cross by Neymar. In reality, the pressure of missing will have been weighing heavily on the Spaniard’s shoulders.
Aside from this goal, Roberto has always been a solid if not spectacular player for his club and country and may not receive the praise he deserves for his part in the Catalan clubs’ successes over the years.
These days, he is somewhat out of favor and looks set to be on his way out of the Camp Nou.
6. Dani Alves
One of the best fullbacks in the history of the game, Dani Alves is a Barcelona and Brazil legend that wore a plethora of numbers during his time at the Nou Camp.
Alves signed for the Catalan giants in 2008 following a successful spell with Sevilla, Alves loved it with the Seville-based club and was in tears upon leaving.
Once with Barcelona, Alves was handed the number 20 jersey and wore it for the entirety of his first season with the club. At the time, expectations were high as the Brazilian was one of the most expensive defenders in the world at the time.
The fiery right back was never one to pull out of a tackle, picking up plenty of yellow cards during his career. Alves missed the UEFA Champions League final victory over Manchester United following a double yellow card in the semi-final win.
Another talented attacking midfielder, Brazilian-born Deco wore the number 20 on two occasions during his career, for both Porto and Barcelona.
While he was born and raised in Brazil, Deco opted to play for Portugal as a professional and enjoyed a steady international career that perhaps didn’t yield the success it could have if he had chosen to represent Brazil instead.
After making the move from Porto in 2004, Deco played in a strong Barcelona team that were slowly becoming the giants of the late 2000s they were.
In his first season with the Catalan giants, Deco won the La Liga title and was later awarded the player of the year award. He then went on to be named as the best midfielder in Europe by UEFA following Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League win in 2007.
As a player Deco wasn’t known for goalscoring, registering just 11 times for Barcelona in his four seasons with the club. The Portuguese midfielder was a pure creator and is rightly held in high regard by fans of his era.
4. Dele Alli
A player that once had the world at his feet, Dele Alli was one of the most talented English midfielders of his generation.
After enjoying a brilliant start to his career with MK Dons and later Tottenham Hotspur, Alli has bounced between a number of clubs around Europe and currently finds himself with Turkish side Besiktas although he is still an Everton player at the time of writing.
Alli wore the number 20 during his Tottenham Hotspur days and dazzled fans at the old White Hart Lane stadium for seven years. He was a fan favorite that could score from almost anywhere on the field and possessed an innate passing ability.
The Englishman was a part of the Spurs squad that famously reached the UEFA Champions League final in 2019.
Alli’s career took a landslide almost overnight and he looks doomed to be playing outside of the Premier League for the rest of his career. Perhaps Everton will give the troubled midfielder another chance though.
3. Gary Neville
Arguably the greatest Premier League right back of all time, English legend Gary Neville wore the number 20 for Manchester United in the 1990s before changing to number 2 later in his career.
Neville progressed through the ranks at the club’s youth system alongside a host of other top prospects, put together they formed the legendary ‘Class of 92’ that would win the treble in 1999.
Neville became a figurehead of stability in the United squad, becoming a spectacularly reliable defender under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.
In his nearly 20-year playing career, Neville played 400 times for Manchester United and was a one-club man that epitomized everything that made United so strong in this era.
Upon his retirement in 2011, Neville moved into broadcasting and has since worked at UK-based media outlet Sky Sports. Alongside Jamie Carragher, Neville has become one of the most loved pundits in the country. He also part-owns Salford City FC, the team currently playing in League Two.
2. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
A player that has somewhat tarnished his legacy at Old Trafford following a disappointing spell as manager of the club, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wore the number 20 during his days as a super-sub for Manchester United.
It was while playing for the Premier League giants that the Norwegian forward gained the nickname ‘the baby faced assassin’.
Solskjaer scored some of his best goals when he came off the bench, however, none were more impactful than his UEFA Champions League winning strike against Bayern Munich in 1999.
Fans of the Red Devils will almost always uphold their belief that this is the greatest finish to a major European final of all time, however, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Of course, he returned to the club as manager and failed to restore the club to their former greatness. He was replaced in 2021 following a poor start to the season.
1. Robin van Persie
While he may be more famous for wearing other numbers, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ wore number 20 during arguably his greatest-ever season.
Robin van Persie joined Manchester United ahead of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign in an attempt to win the competition for the first time in his career.
Already one of the top strikers in Europe, van Persie settle into life at Old Trafford quickly and scored a host of goals as United marched to their 20th league title.
During his time in Manchester, van Persie scored some truly remarkable goals. Most notably his volley against Aston Villa that will forever be remembered as the image of the season by fans of the club.
Following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, van Persie remained at the club during the doomed reign of David Moyes.
He helped the club reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in what was perceived as a miracle at the time given the teams’ poor domestic performances. Van Persie scored a total of 48 goals during his three seasons at United, leaving for Turkey in 2015.