There are many famous numbers when it comes to soccer jerseys; players around the world crave the attention and stardom that often comes with wearing one of the most popular numbers like 7 or 10.
Despite the number 19 not being one of the most ‘iconic’ jersey numbers for most players, there are some greats who have worn (or still wear) it.
Today, we will be taking you through some of the best soccer players who have worn the number 19 jersey over the years, including one or two that you may not have expected.
The number itself is usually reserved for one of a team’s backup forwards, though can in reality be used by anyone in the squad these days.
1. Lionel Messi
Arguably the greatest player of all time, Argentinian legend Lionel Messi may be most well known for his time wearing the number 10 and number 30 jerseys during his respective spells at Barcelona and Paris – Saint Germain, but he also wore number 19 for a few seasons for both his club and country.
When a young Messi first broke into the Barcelona first team (following years of training at the club’s youth academy), he initially starred for the club’s backup team Barcelona B in the lower echelons of Spanish soccer before making his first real foray into the starting eleven in 2005.
At this time the Barcelona team was filled with talented forwards such as Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho, soon enough though the young Messi was outshining them all.
It wasn’t long before Messi became a household name in the world of soccer, with him performing well in the Champions League and La Liga.
At this stage in his career, it was not yet clear that the Argentine would go onto achieve what he has because injuries plagued him as a youngster, thankfully he overcame them to become the hero we all know today.
2. Julian Alvarez
From one Argentinian forward to another, though this guy is clearly the leader of the next generation of talented Argentine strikers.
Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez may well be in the shadow of Erling Haaland for his club right now but following his influential performances at the recent World Cup, it shouldn’t be long before he threatens his Norwegian teammate for a place in the starting eleven.
It has been a pretty meteoric rise to the top for Alvarez who only signed for Manchester City in the summer of 2022.
Prior to this big money move, Alvarez was plying his trade back home in Argentina for the famous River Plate side that almost always challenges for major honors in south America.
At the time River Plate knew they had a real talent on their hands as Alvarez was supposed to join Real Madrid but couldn’t do so due to his age.
Real’s loss was River Plate’s gain though as the young striker became a shining light in an already formidable side. Alvarez played a part in a number of trophies wins for the club, including the 2018 Copa Libertadores as River Plate beat bitter rivals Boca in the final.
3. Raphael Varane
We now go from one side of Manchester to the other. Manchester United’s resident number 19 wearer is not one of the finest forwards in the world but is certainly one of the best at the other end of the field.
Raphael Varane was long regarded as a true rock at the back, his time with Real Madrid saw him win countless domestic and continental honors both with his team and individually before his troubled start to life at Old Trafford.
It’s perhaps fair to say that an aging Varane is not the player he was five years ago, his pace has somewhat faded and the general malaise that has engulfed Manchester United seems to have reached the Frenchman.
Despite this, Varane has still performed incredibly well for his country during the World Cup and has helped his country to their second consecutive final in the competition.
Number 19 is not usually the jersey of a player that features regularly for the first team, though it has slight significance for Varane as it was the number he first wore at Real Madrid when he signed for the Spanish giants from Lens back in 2011.
The Frenchman clearly wanted the number to have the same impact on him in Manchester as it did in Madrid.
4. Franck Kessie
Now one of the most talented midfield generals in world soccer, Franck Kessie has already had an impressive career that has yielded plenty of success at club level. The Ivory Coast international currently plays for the troubled Barcelona team which is in financial ruin at the moment.
Kessie joined the club from AC Milan in 2022 as one of the strange signings made by the Catalan giants, the move was strange due to the fact that Barcelona was struggling so much to find funds to pay their top players the insane wages they have been promised.
This is partly why the former wearer of the number 19 jersey, Lionel Messi, was forced to leave a season earlier.
Kessie was brought in on a free transfer though, which perhaps made things easier for both parties to agree to the deal.
It was a real loss for AC Milan though as Kessie had been a vital cog in the title-winning machine for the Rossoneri just last season, although it is understandable that he wanted a move to the Nou Camp.
If Kessie continues to improve, his value will skyrocket, and he will become one of the most sought-after midfielders of his generation.
5. Theo Hernandez
Onto another Frenchman now, and another of the heroes that finally brought the Scudetto back to the San Siro last season, Theo Hernandez is one of the finest full-backs in the world right now and destined to play at the highest level for many years.
The French international began his career in Spain with Atletico Madrid, featuring for their reserve side many times in the early years of his career.
This is commonplace for youngsters in Spain as the reserves teams of the largest clubs play at a relatively high level most of the time (Hernandez played in the third division for Atletico).
After appearing for a number of Spanish clubs including Real Madrid, Hernandez made the move to Italy after falling out of favor at the Bernabeu (something that I’m sure the top brass regret now).
Hernandez was handed the number 19 jersey and appeared in almost every game for the Italians in his first season there, becoming a key assist maker and occasional goal scorer for the club too.
His latest campaign was his strongest though, making 41 appearances in all competitions and adding a further five goals and 10 assists to his career statistics.
6. Dani Ceballos
Next up is a player that really promised a lot in the earlier days of his career but has somewhat stalled in his progress over the past few seasons.
Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos is a silky operator on the ball and can spread a pass that carves defenses open with ease when at his best. Currently still on the books at Real Madrid, Ceballos wears the number 19 jersey for ‘Los Blancos’.
Followers of the Premier League will likely be well aware of Ceballos’ abilities thanks to his strong loan spell at Arsenal back in 2019. The Spaniard performed well in his first year in north London as he helped the Gunners to domestic success in the FA Cup.
Ceballos scored a number of crucial goals during his time at the Emirates, his performances warranted another season with Arsenal before his eventual return to Madrid in 2021.
Since returning to his parent club, Ceballos hasn’t started very regularly for them. He did make a brief appearance in Real’s latest Champions League final triumph over Liverpool after coming on as a late substitute.
Part of me wonders what could have been had Ceballos been allowed to join Arsenal on a permanent basis and I’m sure plenty of Gunners agree with me.
7. Leonardo Bonucci
The final player on our list is another defensive legend that seems to just get better with age. Italy may not have qualified for the World Cup this time around, but Leonardo Bonucci was a key figure in their triumphant Euro 2020 campaign last year (it’s fair to say that fans of England will be seeing him and Giorgio Chiellini in their nightmares forever).
Bonucci wears the number 19 for Juventus and while he may no longer have his defensive partner Chiellini alongside him anymore, he remains a tough opponent for even the best strikers.
For a man that has such a stellar record, Bonucci has never actually played outside of his native Italy, though has played for some of the biggest clubs in the country.
In the early days of his career, Bonnuci struggled to get first-team soccer at teams such as Inter Milan and Genoa (among others). Eventually, he moved to Juventus in 2010 and became the player we recognize today.
A brief spell away from Turin saw Bonucci feature for AC Milan, as many Italians like to have played for the Rossoneri at some point in their career. After just a season away, Bonnuci returned to Juventus in 2018 and has remained there since.