Usually worn by a creative player, number 8s are among the most technically gifted soccer players in the world. They can string a pass from almost anywhere on the field and open up defenses with ease through their fancy footwork and close control of the ball.
Any number jersey can become iconic when worn by a certain player, however, there are a handful of jerseys that are traditionally reserved for players who dazzle on the field and entertain as few others can. One such number is the number 8.
Today we are going to be taking a closer look at the most famous players to have worn the number 8 jersey during their playing career and exploring what makes them so legendary. Sit back and remember some of the players that may have made you fall in love with soccer.
Here are the 7 most famous soccer players with the number 8 jersey.
7. Andres Iniesta
One of the greatest midfielders of all time, Spanish World Cup winner Andres Iniesta has worn the number 8 throughout his career and very few have looked better doing so.
During his time with Barcelona, Iniesta formed half of what I believe to be the greatest midfield pairing of all time. Alongside now Barcelona manager Xavi, Iniesta pioneered an intricate style of play now known as tika-taka.
Iniesta won countless domestic and European honors with Barcelona before eventually departing the club in tears in 2018. Since then, the Spaniard has been off in Japan playing for Vissel Kobe.
At the age of 39, he may no longer be playing at the highest level, however, his sheer love for the game is clearly what’s making him carry on.
It has been announced that Iniesta is set to leave the Japanese side after almost five years, however, it remains to be seen whether this will signal his retirement from soccer or merely a move elsewhere.
6. Martin Odegaard
A player that had gone from strength to strength in recent years, current Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard wears the number 8 jersey for the Gunners and has become one of the clubs’ most important players.
Odegaard joined Arsenal after departing Real Madrid in 2021, the Norwegian was one of the most promising talents at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium but disappointed after many years of trying to break into the first team.
He spent time out on loan with numerous sides before eventually settling into his soccer at the Emirates. Arsenal paid just 40 million euros (including add-ons) for their future captain.
In the seasons following his permanent transfer, Odegaard has registered an impressive 22 goals in just under 75 appearances for the club. He looks set to lead Arsenal into a new era of success that was unfortunately nabbed from them at the last minute in 2023.
5. Paul Scholes
One of the finest central midfielders of all time, English legend Paul Scholes wore the number 8 for England on occasion. Despite only wearing the number a handful of times, Scholes was too good to omit from a list of this kind.
A one club man, Scholes graduated from the Red Devils’ famous academy alongside other superstars such as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary Neville in what would become known as the ‘Class of 92’.
Scholes became one the real points of stability for the club for almost two decades, even coming out of retirement when the club needed some extra legs due to injuries.
As a player, Scholes was small in stature but big in talent. He could play intricate passes and long balls with pinpoint accuracy and strike a ball like few others could.
Perhaps Scholes’ best moment came during the 2008 UEFA Champions League semi-final tie against Barcelona, Scholes scored a thunderous long-range effort that left Victor Valdes completed dumbfounded.
4. Toni Kroos
One of the top midfielders of his generation, German legend Toni Kroos has been one of the leaders within the Real Madrid team for the best part of a decade.
Kroos started his career in his native Germany with Bayern Munich, he was a part of the squad that beat their rivals Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final.
He moved to Spain in 2014 and has been a vital cog in the Real Madrid winning machine ever since.
A silky-smooth passer, Kroos may not be the fastest or highest scoring player on the field, however, he possesses a vision that few can match. Alongside Luka Modric, Kroos has formed a formidable midfield duo that has won countless trophies together.
Now 33, Kroos is coming toward the end of his playing career, but I believe his soccer brain will allow him to become a great coach in the future. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stay with Real Madrid when he inevitably makes this transition.
Another number 8 with near-endless talent, Brazilian megastar Kaka was one of the faces of soccer throughout the 2000s and won plenty of major honors during his time at the top.
Kaka was renowned for his close control and goal-scoring ability; his mazy runs would baffle defenders and lead to some exquisite solo goals.
The Brazilian was a part of his nation’s successful 2002 World Cup campaign, however, it was in 2006 that he was a major player. Alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldinho Kaka was part of a truly incredible squad that ultimately failed to deliver success.
Despite this, Kaka went on to win the Ballon d’Or in 2007 and became one of the most expensive players in history following his transfer to Real Madrid.
Kaka’s fame knew no bounds during his playing days and he remains a famous face whenever he appears at matches around the world.
He was also the first sportsperson to reach 10 million followers on Twitter, not bad for somebody that was around before the real rise of social media.
2. Frank Lampard
It is always difficult to separate the top two players on this list, both were as good as each other at their best in my opinion.
However, this time around I have opted to put Chelsea hero Frank Lampard in second place. Lampard wore the number 8 at the West London club for 13 years and established himself as one of the biggest legends in their history.
An all-round midfielder, Lampard could score goals from almost anywhere on the field, he notched an impressive 147 goals during his time at Chelsea.
Not bad for a central midfielder. Upon his departure from London, Lampard moved to newly minted Manchester City and was one of the squad players during the Citizens’ 2014-15 campaign.
This move eventually ended with Lampard moving to the US with New York City. The Englishman played his final city in New York and made 29 appearances, scoring an impressive 15 times.
1. Steven Gerrard
Another candidate for the greatest English player of all time, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard personified the Premier League in the 2010s era despite never actually lifting the trophy with his beloved club.
Despite this, Gerrard did win the UEFA Champions League title in 2005 after playing his part in the incredible comeback victory against AC Milan in Istanbul.
Gerrard was also a key figure in the England team throughout his career, playing alongside both Lampard and Scholes in one of the greatest midfields’ of all time. Although the less said about this side achieved, the better for most England supporters.
After finally departing Liverpool in 2015, Gerrard came to the MLS with LA Galaxy and played a season in the US. The scouser scored 5 times in 34 appearances for the Los Angeles based side.
So, there we have it! Did we get all of them right or would you have chosen a few others to slot in there? Some honorable mentions include Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sergio Busquets, Paul Gascoigne, and many more!