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The Greatest Footballers to Wear the Number 9 Shirt

When numbers on shirts were first introduced in the 1933 FA Cup Final, Everton’s Dixie Dean was the centre-forward that day that wore what would become the most icon shirt in the sport: The number 9 jersey.

A strong, powerful forward who had already set the record for the most goals scored in a single season, Dixie Dean would set the tone for what it took to wear the number 9 shirt.

To celebrate the utter class of Dixie Dean and the history and honour attached to the number 9 shirt, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the most iconic players to wear the jersey.

Alfredo Di Stefano

number 9
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed ‘The Blond Arrow’, Alfredo Di Stefano is considered as one of the best ever to play the beautiful game. Best known for his unprecedented achievements with Real Madrid, Di Stefano was instrumental in the club’s domination both in Spain and on the continent.

‘The Blonde Arrow’ was known for being powerful, quick, skilful and prolific in his play, with great stamina, tactical versatility, creativity, and vision.

Di Stefano is currently the sixth highest scorer in the history of Spain’s top division. He is also Los Blanco’s third highest league goalscorer with 216 goals in 282 league matches between 1953 and 1964. He is also Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the history of El Clásico.

In 2008 Di Stefano was honoured by both UEFA and Real Madrid with a special Presidents award issued by FIFA, where a statue was also unveiled. Then UEFA President Michel Platini referred to Di Stefano as “a great amongst the greats”.

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer - Number 9 players
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Alan Shearer is considered to be one of the greatest strikers to have ever played the game – he also loved scoring against Everton.

A legendary number 9, Shearer possesses innumerable personal records with a Premier League’s best total of 260 goals to his name. Always referred to as the ‘complete striker’, whether it was a header or a volley, Shearer would find the net.

On his debut for Southampton in 1988, he scored a hat-trick and carried this amazing form throughout his whole career. Shearer was the top scorer in the Premier League for three consecutive seasons, 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996-1997. He was also awarded the PFA Player of the Year Award in 1995 and 1996.

Shearer personified the number 9 which he wore on his back with pride. His outstanding aerial ability, awareness and long-range shooting are what made him one of the greatest marksmen ever.

Robbie Fowler

Known for being a natural scorer with an instinctive goal-poaching ability, Robbie Fowler was a prolific English footballer who played as a striker from 1993 to 2012.

Fowler is best remembered for his time at Liverpool and is the sixth-highest goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. He scored 183 goals in total for Liverpool, 128 of which were scored in the Premier League, 162 Premier League goals in total.

A true fan favourite at his home club of Liverpool, his agility, goal scoring ability and ruthlessness in front of the net earned him the nickname “god”.

Fowler won the treble of the UEFA Cup, Fa Cup and the League Cup with Liverpool in the 2000-01 season scoring 17 goals in the process. Fowler has also played for Manchester City, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

Andy Cole

In 1993, Newcastle United paid £1.75 million for Andy Cole which at the time was a record transfer fee.

In his first season Cole scored 12 goals, earning the Magpies promotion to the Premier League in 1994. He left Newcastle for Manchester United in January 1995 and was one half of a strike partnership that powered Manchester United to the treble in 1999.

Andy Cole is second – just behind Alan Shearer – in the Premier League top scorer charts with a total of 187 goals to his name. He has also played for several other Premier League sides such as Blackburn, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Sunderland – where he rekindled his strike partnership with Dwight Yorke.

Cole played his last Premier League match for Sunderland in 2008, putting an end to a career that lasted 19 years and saw him score 229 goals.

Filippo Inzaghi

Filippo Inzaghi played as a striker for several Italian clubs and spent the most notable times of his club career with Juventus and AC Milan, winning two UEFA Champions League titles and three Scudetto’s

The seventh highest scorer in Italy, with 313 goals scored and currently the fourth-highest goal scorer in European club competitions with 70 goals, ‘Pippo’ was one of the most prominent number 9’s in the game.

He is also Milan’s top international goal scorer in the club’s history with 43 goals. At international level, Inzaghi earned 57 caps for the Italy national team between 1997 and 2007, scoring 25 goals.

Bobby Charlton

Bobby Charlton
Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most iconic number 9 players in the game, Sir Bobby Charlton was an essential member of the England team who won the World Cup in 1966, the year he also won the Ballon d’Or.

Born in Ashington, Northumberland, Charlton made his debut for Manchester United in 1956 and over the next two seasons gained a regular place in the team. Renowned for his attacking instincts, passing abilities and his ferocious long-range shot, Charlton was and is a United legend.

In 1968, he captained the Manchester United team that won the European Cup, scoring two goals in the final to help his team become the first English side to win the competition. He is United’s second leading goal scorer with 249  and held the distinction of being England’s top goal scorer from May 1968 to September 2015.

Throughout his career, Charlton obtained 106 international caps, earning him entry into the exclusive circle of players with a Century of Caps.

He was loved by the fans for being a total gentleman and the ultimate in old-fashioned sporting heroes.

The Brazilian Ronaldo

Arguably the greatest striker to ever grace the game, Ronaldo was aptly nicknamed ‘The Phenomenon’.

In his prime, he was known for his dribbling speed, feints, and clinical finishing. In the 1990s, Ronaldo starred at club level for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, and Inter Milan. His moves to Spain and Italy made him only the second player, after Diego Maradona, to break the world transfer record twice. He was only 20 years-old.

He is one of only three men to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times or more, along with Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and the other Ronaldo; Cristiano .

A two-time FIFA World Cup winner, Ronaldo set goal scoring charts on fire for several clubs in his long career, netting 352 goals in his entire club career.

Ronaldo was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the greatest players compiled by Brazil legend Pele in 2007.

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruuyff- Number 9
Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Considered to be one of the most influential figures in football history, Johan Cruyff was an iconic number 9 – despite the fact that he is also known for wearing the number 14.

As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. In the 1970s, Dutch football rose from near obscurity to become a powerhouse in the sport.

Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and lit up the tournament. At the 1974 finals, he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him – the “Cruyff Turn” – a move widely replicated in the modern game.

However, it was his playing style and philosophy that earned him the greatest respect.  He was the most famous exponent of the philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels.

Cruyff’s style of play and his philosophy has influenced managers and players, including the likes of Arrigo Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Pep Guardiola, and Maurizio Sarri.

Ajax and Barcelona are among the clubs that have developed youth academies based on Cruyff’s coaching methods, plus Spanish football’s successes at both club and international level during the years 2008 to 2012 has been cited by many as evidence of Cruyff’s impact on contemporary football.

In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century vote.

Ajax’s stadium was also renamed the ‘Johan Cruyff Arena’ in 2016.

Ian Rush

Regarded as one of the greatest Liverpool players ever, Ian Rush was a legendary number 9.

Born in Wales, Rush is Liverpool’s leading goalscorer, having netted a staggering 346 goals in all competitions at the club, including a record 25 goals versus Merseyside derby rival Everton.

At international level, Rush made 73 appearances for Wales and remained the record goalscorer for his country until 2018, with 28 goals between 1980 and 1996.

Often described by his teammates as Liverpool’s first line of defence, the Wales international was not just a goalscorer but a hard-working, selfless runner who never gave up the chase.

Rush came 3rd in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop – an official Liverpool fan poll.

Dixie Dean

number 9
Source: Gwladys Street 1938

Last but certainly not least on our list of the greatest players to wear the number 9 jersey is of course, Dixie Dean.

An Everton hero, he signed for the club in 1925 and scored a total of 383 goals in 433 appearances for the team, an exceptional strike-rate which includes 37 hat-tricks.

During the legendary 1927-28 season, Dixie memorably scored a record 60 league goals, winning Everton the First Division title. Dean was an integral member of the Everton side that won the FA Cup in 1933, scoring a goal in the final.

He was the first Everton player to wear the number-9 shirt and by 1934, Dean was captain of Everton. A true gentleman on and off the field, Dixie was adored by the fans and was renowned for being an amazing role model. In our interview with his daughter Barbara last month, she described Dixie as “a humble man who stood up for the underdog, even to his own detriment.”

Dean’s goalscoring exploits over a sensational 13-year career at Goodison went a long way to forging the mystique around the number 9 jersey at Everton. Dean set the precedent for Everton strikers to come, be it Dave Hickson, Joe Royle, Bob Latchford, Graham Sharp or Duncan Ferguson, who make up the banner above.

The Dixie Dean Hotel

number 9

The Dixie Dean Hotel is to commemorate the life and times of Dixie both on and off the pitch with a luxurious 100-bedroom hotel. Opposite the now famous Shankly Hotel, The Dixie Dean is to provide Evertonian’s with an unprecedented experience, ideal for superb weekends away or basking in and enjoying unseen memorabilia – while our restaurant is aptly named: No.9.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of some of the greatest and most iconic number 9 players, for updates and developments on our amazing Dixie Dean Hotel, head over to our Facebook Page.