Football is a team sport played by two teams of 11 players each, each assigned to a specific position to help their team succeed.
Each team has one goalkeeper and ten outfield players who are assigned to defensive, midfield and attacking positions.
So, how well do you know the football positions numbers and their roles in the game?
Let’s find out!
Goalkeeper – GK
Goalkeepers play the most defensive position in soccer, making them one of the most important players on a team. Therefore, except for goalkeepers, no other players are allowed to wear a jersey with the number 1. Other goalkeepers’ position numbers in football are 12 or 13.
Goalkeepers’ primary role is to prevent the opponent from scoring a goal, and they are the only players permitted to intervene with their hands, but only in the penalty area.
As players with the best view from the last line, goalies can be extremely helpful in organising and positioning the outfield players.
The sports equipment they wear differs from the other players and the referees. Standards require them to wear gloves and specially designed pants or shorts for their job.
Some of the most famous and successful goalkeepers in the world are Petr Čech, David de Gea, Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas.
Right Full Back – RB
Full-backs are the key players responsible for defending against the opposing wingers in wide areas and protecting the goalie. A right full-back with pace and striking abilities can be an enormous advantage for one team. Therefore, they must be in a peak condition at all times as they sweep back and forth throughout the game, frequently sending crosses into the opposition box.
Right full-back’s duty is to prevent wingers from attacking the defence by supporting the wide midfielder ahead of them. They are also frequently in charge of taking right-side throw-ins.
Right full-backs are usually assigned the number 2. Other football numbers by position of famous players who have mastered this position are César Azpilicueta number 28, Trent Alexander-Arnold number 66, Dani Carvajal number 20, and others.
Left Full Back – LB
Left full-backs typically have the same roles and responsibilities as right full-backs, with the exception that they play on the left side of the pitch. These left-footed athletes, who typically wear number 3, move up and down the field to assist with offensive plays.
As mentioned above, this position requires pace and strength, but it’s more important to play smart and to have a sense of anticipation. Ashley Cole, Gerard Piqué, Paolo Maldini, Patrice Evra, and others are examples of this skill set.
There is also a variation of the full-back position. For example, a wing-back (WB) is a combination of a full-back and a winger who is frequently used in formations with three centre backs. Most of the time, full-backs stay back to cover the defensive players and the goalkeepers, but you can also see them scoring goals.
Centre-Back – CB
A centre back (also known as a centre-half) is another defensive position whose primary responsibility is to prevent opposing attackers from passing, dribbling, and shooting. These players, who typically wear number 4, are positioned in the middle of the defensive line and specialise in winning aerial duels, but they must also have a leadership mentality and football intelligence.
Centre backs (stoppers) are often known for their height and physical domination, as they possess aggression and tackling ability. Because of their size, centre backs cannot boast much speed, but they are a major threat when it comes to headers due to their jumping ability.
Some of the best players to ever wear numbers other than 4 in this position include some of the best-retired players such as John Terry (26), and Nemanja Vidić (15 and 26).
Centre-Back – CB
The sweeper (also known as libero) position is used in three centre backs formations. He is positioned slightly behind the centre backs, and his role is to clean up any ball that gets through the defence. Sweepers mostly take the shirt with the number 5.
Sweepers need to have a good awareness of the play and passing ability. Above all, a great vision and ability to read the game from deep makes one centre-back complete. As the name libero (meaning “free” in Italian) implies, players in this position lack natural markers, allowing them to move freely throughout the field. However, unlike in the 1900s, this position is rarely used nowadays because it prevents a team from exploiting the offside rule.
We cannot fail to mention Franz Beckenbauer, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Leboeuf, which stand among the greatest centre-backs in the world.
Centre Midfield – CM (Defensive)
Players wearing the number 6 typically play as central defensive midfielders (CDM) in the middle of the field, directly in front of the defence. They are to assist the defenders and mark the opposing attackers in order to defend their team’s goal.
Centre defensive midfielders are to prevent the ball from passing through their zone, intercepting opponent passes, and covering teammates who are attacking. These athletes are tactically minded and use short and long passes to organise and dictate the game. In addition, their high level of fitness and lower body strength enables them to keep up with the attackers throughout the game.
N’Golo Kanté is an example of a complete centre midfielder because he is effective in both defence and creating chances for attackers. Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Rodrigo Cascante, and Carlos Casimiro are among the best defensive midfielders.
Centre Midfield – CM (Box-to-box)
Soccer players assigned to this position are responsible for running from box to box, assisting both defence and attack. They form a line in the centre of the field. These players must be physically fit in order to balance on both sides of the pitch.
They are thought to have the most difficult job because they constantly pass the ball to all the players. Box-to-box midfielders must also have exceptional passing skills. These players are mostly identified by the number 8.
Other famous numbers used by professional athletes who have demonstrated exceptional tactical skills for centre midfielders are some of the best Premier League players such as Frank Lampard 8 and 18, Steven Gerrard 4 and 8 and former Spurs player Luka Modrić 10.
Centre Midfield – CM (Attacking)
Players chosen for this football position by their managers are considered the most creative ones in the team. For example, the attacking midfielder, who usually wears the number 10, is a playmaker and the conductor of the attacking moves, as well as the creator of goal-scoring chances for the strikers. Some of the players with the most assists in football history are players from this position.
All the successful centre attacking midfielders, such as Kevin De Bruyne (jersey number 7 or 17), David Silva (number 21), and Thomas Müller (number 25), have excellent vision and control of the game, the ability to shoot from long distances, and the ability to pass on both sides.
These players are also known for their agility and acceleration, as well as their ability to read the game and switch between defence and offence. And, of course, because of their 90-minute active participation in the game, centre attacking midfielders must always be in top shape.
Left Midfield – LM
Left midfielders (or left-wingers) have the same responsibilities as right midfielders, but they are positioned on the left side near the touchline. They are quick on their feet and skilled with the ball, and they are in charge of assisting the strikers.
They are not only fast, but they can also outrun defenders and have excellent passing and crossing skills. These left-footed athletes must be good game readers and always have an eye for a goal and are also known as some of the best free-kick takers. Regaining and keeping possession completes a midfielder.
Football players who are prominent in the left midfield position on the professional field include Ryan Giggs, Franck Ribéry, Lorenzo Insigne, George Best, and many others.
Right Midfield – RM
Also known as right-wingers or right outside midfielders, their role is balanced between the attack and the defence and positioned on the right side, close to the touchline. These right-footed players have great tactical skills and speed to run the whole length of the pitch to cross for their teammates for a goal-scoring opportunity.
You won’t see them playing with the ball so much, but when they have it at their feet, they always find ways to transition it to the attackers. The right midfielder’s fitness level has to be consistently high and to have great one-on-one skills to get past the left-back.
Riyad Mahrez, who wears number 26, is a left-footed player who plays brilliantly in this position. Ángel Di María is also one of the greatest on the right attacking side, but Christian Pulisic, Adama Traoré and Federico Chiesa are a few of the young football stars that are showing exceptional skills playing in this position.
Striker – ST
Positioned nearest to the opponent’s goal, a striker’s primary role is scoring goals. They are also involved in creating chances for a goal for their teammates and supporting their defence. A good striker must position himself in a way that allows him to receive the ball and hold it until he is joined in the attack.
Strikers, also known as forwards, have a great pace for outrunning the defenders. Examples of good dribblers and finishers born for this position are Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Robert Lewandowski, and Luis Suárez.
These players are usually the centre of attention during a game and receive full credit for their efforts, as they are frequently the ones who lead their teams to victory. Therefore, they will wear the number 9, but that number is not always fixed for this position.
These are the most common football team positions, but there are several more, depending on the managers’ formation. Football is all about teamwork, intelligent play and excellent strategy, leaving no room for selfishness.
From the youth field to the professional field, the football position numbers have mainly remained unchanged throughout the years, but there are also players that demand a particular squad number of some significance to them.
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