Regardless of how a football jersey looks or who manufacturers it, certain shirt numbers for clubs and countries are revered the world over by fans of the beautiful game.
One such shirt, is Manchester United‘s number seven, with some of the most iconic figures in the 20-time league champions history have donned the famous shirt over the years.
It is a shirt number associated with players of immense skill and flair, with its range of previous custodians including players like George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, and David Beckham.
United’s number seven by default has often been correlated to the clubs most important player at any given time, and it is no surprise that it is the number five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wore during his hugely successful six seasons at Old Trafford.
However, a pretty shocking stat has emerged today shows just how poor players wearing the famous number seven have performed in the decade since the Portuguese superstars departure for Real Madrid in 2009 – since Ronaldo left United five different players have donned the shirt scoring a measly total of 15 goals.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure 10 years ago, Man United's No. 7s have scored just 15 Premier League goals ? pic.twitter.com/uAxyiNKLL7
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) June 11, 2019
One time golden boy of English football Michael Owen was the man who originally inherited the number seven from Ronaldo, but persistent injury troubles meant he would make little impact.
Next up was the recently departed Antonio Valencia, who for all his good points, never looked a natural fit in a shirt associated with skill and flair. After a season of donning the famous jersey the Ecuadorian asked to revert to his previous squad number of 25 as he felt weighed down by the expectation.
United fans then thought they had found the perfect player to restore the seven shirt to its former glories, when they signed Argentinian attacker Angel Di Maria, but the £57 million signing from Real Madrid flopped badly and was offloaded to PSG after just one season in the Premier League.
Cocky young Dutchman Memphis Depay joined the club in the summer of 2015 and brimming with self-belief insisted he was the man to take United back to the top. However, it turned out Memphis’ own idea of how good he is and the actual reality are miles apart and he was also soon waving goodbye to the Old Trafford faithful.
Then came the current incumbent Alexis Sanchez. United believed they had pulled off a major coup in January 2018 when they signed the former Barcelona attacker from rivals Arsenal. Sadly for everyone involved though the Chile international has looked a shadow of his former self and considering he is on a reported £500,000 per week, his transfer will likely go down as one of the worst in top-flight history.
So there you have it, the Man United number seven shirt has been hexed since Ronaldo’s departure and with the clubs recent record of duff signings fans of the Old Trafford outfit could be forgiven for thinking it may be a while before they see a player capable of living up to the famous number seven shirts rich traditions.
To make this stat feel a little worse… Ronaldo has 332 league goals since then! ? https://t.co/E1dOyjyOSJ
— Adam McKola (@AdamMcKola) June 11, 2019