The number 11 jersey is traditionally reserved for left wingers in football following the introduction of the numbering system in 1911.
It is not a number as flashy as number 7, 9 or 10, but it has been worn by a number of legendary players who have changed the game for good with their talents. Like other numbers, it has also evolved into a marketing tool.
In this article, we will look at some players who have donned the number 11 jersey in the past to great effect, as well as some players who, currently, are wearing and performing very well in the number 11 jersey.
Gareth Frank Bale is a Welsh football player who plies his trade in America with MLS club Los Angeles FC, who he signed for in 2022. He started his career as a left-back at Southampton and earned himself a reputation as a free kick specialist.
Being a defender, he wore other numbers including number 3, which is the number historically assigned to a left back. It was not until 2012 while playing for Tottenham Hotspur that he first wore the number 11 jersey. The number change also meant a position change, as he was moved upfield to the right wing to allow Tottenham exploit his ability to cut inside and unleash powerful shots with his left foot.
That season saw him finish as the Premier League’s best player and earned Tottenham Hotspur a pretty sum when Real Madrid came calling in 2013. Bale was given the number 11 shirt at Madrid and became the final piece of the puzzle Madrid needed to effectively challenge the dominance of Barcelona in LaLiga.
Bale was paired with Karim Benzema – who wore the number 11 jersey at Madrid as well – and Cristiano Ronaldo to form the BBC attacking trio.
Together, they did much damage and Bale grew into the best player to ever come out of the United Kingdom. In the number 11 shirt for Madrid, he also became the most accomplished British player in history. He has adapted the number 11 into his personal life, starting a company named Elevens Ltd. He currently dons the number 11 jersey at his new club LAFC and is the number 11 for the Welsh national team.
Gareth Bale has won 16 titles in his career, all of which were as Real Madrid’s number 11 (and number 28, in his final season at the club). So far, he has played 546 club career games, scored 185 goals and provided 139 assists.
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is a former striker who played for the Netherlands, Arsenal, Manchester United, Feyenoord and Fenerbahçe in a career that lasted 18 years. He is considered one of the best finishers of his generation for his ability to finish first time.
Van Persie wore the number 11 jersey at Arsenal for five years consecutively and solidified his place in football history as one of the iconic players to have donned the number.
Outside Arsenal, the only other time he wore the number 11 was at Fenerbahçe in 2015. In his time at Arsenal, he rose to become the third highest goalscorer at the club, scoring 132 goals wearing the number 11 jersey (and later number 10).
Van Persie won seven titles in his career including the Premier League and the UEFA Europa League (when it was named the UEFA Cup). He scored 274 goals and provided 102 assists in 594 games played.
Mohamed Salah Hamed Mahrous Ghaly, professionally known as Mohamed Salah and fondly called Mo Salah by pundits and fans, is an Egyptian player who wears the number 11 for Liverpool in England.
Also referred to as the Egyptian King by fans, Salah is famous for his uncanny ability to wriggle through tight spaces and find a shooting angle. In five seasons at Liverpool, he eclipsed another African great who also donned the number 11 jersey as the highest scoring African in Premier League history.
He first wore the number 11 jersey in 2015 when he joined Italian Serie A club AS Roma. The new number saw his performances improve greatly as he became one of the most exciting wingers in Italy. After only two years at Roma, he joined Liverpool in 2017, keeping the number 11 jersey that made him famous.
He has since set a number of records at Liverpool donning the number 11 shirt. Some of them include the record for the most goals scored in a single season which he set in his first season, and the most consecutive opening day goals in Premier League history (scored in the first game of the season for six straight seasons).
Mo Salah has played a total of 509 club games in his career. He has scored 236 goals, assisted a further 117, and won nine trophies while at it.
Ángel Di María
Ángel Fabián Di María, known professionally as Ángel Di María, is an Argentine attacking midfielder/winger who is widely regarded as one of the most creative players of his generation.
Di María made his career debut in 2005 with his hometown club, Rosario Central, wearing the number 37 jersey. He rose up the ranks as one of the most talented South American youngsters around. However, he did not get to wear the number 11 jersey until he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2015. He spent seven years at the French club and made his mark on football wearing the number 11 jersey.
As PSG’s number 11, he became the French Ligue 1’s second highest assist provider in Ligue 1 history with 76 assists. He has also held the number in Argentina since 2016 as well and is one of the best players who wear that number on the international stage. He is currently playing with Juventus, who he signed for in 2022, with the number 22 jersey, one of the numbers he wore in his career.
He has played 677 club games in his career so far, scored 155 goals and provided 245 assists. He has won 22 titles in total, two of which are with Argentina. They include a UEFA Champions League title and a Copa America title.
Marco Reus is one of the most recognizable players in the German Bundesliga and is one of the most recognizable number 11s in football. The 33-year-old Borussia Dortmund man is a quiet figure in football who is rarely ever in the media because he is always focused on bettering himself for the next game.
The German, who is also very famous for his proneness to injury, is a talented midfielder who can operate on the wings, as a deep-lying playmaker, a box to box midfielder, and a second striker when called upon. He has worn the number 11 since 2009 when he first joined Borussia Monchengladbach from lower league side Rot Weiss Ahlen.
In the German national team, he wore the number 11 jersey from 2014 until he retired from international duty in 2021. He is a hometown legend and the face of Borussia Dortmund, despite having shared a dressing room with big names like Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He is also a German Bundesliga legend because he is only one of three players to score and assist over 100 goals each.
He has played 559 club games so far, scored 223 and assisted 149 others. He has won six trophies in his career.
Didier Yves Drogba Tébily, professionally known as Didier Drogba, is an Ivorian retired striker who is best known for his exploits with Chelsea in England. He is considered one of the best players to come out of Africa.
Drogba began his career in France with Le Mans Football Club in 1998. He spent six years in France before he was signed by Chelsea in 2004. At Chelsea, he started with the number 15 before being given the number 11 jersey, which he is now synonymous with.
He left Chelsea between 2011 and 2014 to play in China and Turkey with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray before returning the jersey. He maintained the number 11 shirt all this time and was handed the same shirt on his return to the club for one season in 2014. Drogba broke a number of records including the record for most goals scored in English competitions by an African.
He won 14 titles as a Chelsea player. Among them were the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League. Overall, he won 18 titles in his club career. He scored 301 goals and assisted 125 others in 687 club games.