One of the least recognisable numbers in football is the number 16 jersey. However, there have been a few outliers who have made their mark in football wearing the number.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some players who have donned the number 16 jersey in the past to great effect, as well as some players who, currently, are wearing and performing very well in the number 16 jersey.
Roy Maurice Keane, is an Irish football media personality and pundit. When he is not hosting football shows or analyzing football games, he is handling a football team to prepare them for matches. In his time as a footballer between 1989 and 2006 (17 years), he earned a reputation for being one of the “hardest” men in the game.
He was a no-nonsense midfielder who operated in a hybrid of the box-to-box and destroyer roles in his playing days. He made his debut for Cobh Ramblers in the Irish league before coming down to England, first with Nottingham Forest and then with Manchester United, where he was given the number 16 jersey. It was at Old Trafford that the legend of Roy Keane was written in football history.
As Manchester United’s number 16, he honed his limited skillset to the max and became a reliable backbone for the side. He would go in aggressively to win duels and tackles, then pass the ball to his teammates and run up to provide an extra man in the attack while still covering his area of the pitch. He also evolved into a more vocal personality and would be seen giving a dressing down to his teammates who tried to do “too much” on the ball.
Soon, he became Manchester United’s captain and his stock in the football community rose. With Keane as their heart, they were mentality monsters. His influence led to their dominance of English football, making him arguably the most famous number 16 in football.
Over the course of his career, he won 20 titles, 17 of which were with Manchester United. Among his titles are the Premier League, the UEFA Champions League and the Scottish Premiership. He played a total of 589 games, scored 72 goals and assisted 42 games.
Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi is a former Italian defensive midfielder who played for the Italian national team, AS Roma in the Italian Serie A and Boca Juniors in Argentina. He is one of football’s most loyal figures, spending 18 years at Roma before seeing out his career in Argentina with Boca Juniors.
He first donned the number 16 jersey in 2005 for Roma after five seasons for the club. The new number gave him a sense of responsibility and he took it on with the pride that Italians are known for. Getting the number 16 at Roma also coincided with his first call-up to the Italy national team.
He was a brilliant defensive midfielder whose technical skills allowed him to sometimes play in other roles in midfield. He had great strength, passing ability, incredible vision and positional awareness, and a goal-scoring ability that was very much above average for the typical defensive midfielder.
For the Italy national team, De Rossi was one of the first names on the team sheet from his debut in 2005 to 2018. He retired from international duty with the joint fourth highest appearances and as their highest scoring midfielder in history with 21.
As a number 16, he led the way for Roma alongside the legendary Francesco Totti and assumed the club’s captaincy after Totti’s retirement in 2017. That season, he led Roma to their first ever UEFA Champions League semi-final by beating Barcelona in a famous victory.
He ended his career with five trophies to his name, one of which is the World Cup which he won in 2006 with Italy. Over the course of his club career, he played 623 games, scored 64 goals and assisted 60 others.
Édouard Osoque Mendy is a French-born Senegalese goalkeeper who plays for Chelsea in the Premier League and for the Senegal national team. He is currently regarded as one of the best shot stoppers in the game, which is a big deal for goalkeepers of African descent who tend to be overlooked.
Mendy began his professional career in 2011 with Cherbourg, a lower league club in France. He failed to make an impression at the club and was a free agent for a year, leading him down a depression spiral. He even registered for unemployment benefits in France and began looking for jobs outside football. When he thought he would not play football again, he was recommended to fill a goalkeeping vacancy for Olympique de Marseille’s reserve side.
He moved to Stade De Reims in 2016 and was given the number 16 shirt, which turned out to be his lucky shirt. His performances improved, and he helped Reims achieve promotion from the second tier of French football. Soon after, he was putting in strong performances in between the sticks playing in Ligue 1.
He then moved to Stade Rennais, where he kept his number 16 jersey. Strong performances at his new club attracted Europe’s biggest, but it was Chelsea who won the bid to sign him in 2020. They also offered him his number 16 shirt, which he is still wearing. And in that shirt, he has won four titles.
When he received his call-up to Senegal in 2017, he also asked for the number 16 shirt. In that shirt, he was in goal for the country’s first ever Africa Cup of Nations title to cement his place in their football history.
Overall, he has won six titles and the FIFA The Best award for the best goalkeeper of the year 2021.
Sergio Leonel Agüero del Castillo is a former Argentine footballer who played as a striker for clubs in England, Spain and Argentina in the course of an 18-year long career. He is regarded as one of the best strikers to ever play in England and in Spain, and is mentioned as one of the best from his generation.
Aguero started his career in Argentina playing for Club Atlético Independiente. He played there for four years, wearing the number four different numbers each season. He sealed a move to Atlético de Madrid in 2006 and was given the number 10 jersey. In that jersey, he caught the attention of the world and sealed a move to Manchester City in England in 2011, where he first donned the number 16 shirt.#
Being thrust into the most watched league in the world as a young striker proved no challenge and soon, Manchester City’s new number 16 was the talk of all of football. In the four years he wore that jersey, he dragged Manchester City to a number of finals and knockout rounds. But his most famous moment is scoring the goal that gave the club their first ever Premier League title in 2012.
He later switched to the number 10 jersey which was his breakthrough jersey, before leaving for Barcelona in 2021. However, a heart condition forced him to retire from the game after just three weeks with Barcelona.
Sergio Aguero won 18 titles in his career, one of which is the Copa America with Argentina. Among his 17 club titles is a UEFA Europa League title and a few Premier League titles. He played 669 club games in his career, scored 381 goals and assisted 118 others.
Sylvio Mendes Campos Júnior, is a Brazilian football manager who played as a left back for 16 years (1994-2010). He represented Corinthians, Arsenal, Celta de Vigo, Barcelona and Manchester City. It was only at Celta that he wore a different number from 16.
After impressing for five years in Brazil with Corinthians, Arsene Wenger signed him for Arsenal and handed him the number 16 shirt. He was the first ever Brazilian to play for the club, and was a fan favourite in the two years he spent there. He moved to Celta in 2001, became a cult hero at the club just like at Arsenal, and then moved to Barcelona in 2004 where he regained his number 16 shirt and with it, more fans.
He was a squad player at Barcelona but he was one of the first to be called up when things were not working for the club during a match. The number 16 jersey was unmemorable until he donned it at the Catalan club.
Sylvinho played 339 matches in his club career, scoring 11 goals and providing 21 assists. He won 14 titles in his career, two of which are UEFA Champions League titles.
Dietmar Johann Wolfgang Hamann, called Didi by teammates and fans, is a German football manager who played as a defensive midfielder.
His career spanned 19 years from 1992 to 2011. In that time, he wore a couple of numbers but stood out the most playing in the number 16 jersey. He came through the Bayern Munich academy and played for their senior team between 1992 and 1998, before moving to England where he spent the remainder of his career. First was to Newcastle United, then to Liverpool, where he first donned the number 16 shirt.
As Liverpool’s number 16, he became a Premier League legend and set the bar for defensive midfielders of the new millennium in England. He was consistent with his performances all through his career. Even if the team played badly, Didi Hamann was one of the bright sparks. Soon, his consistency rubbed off on his Liverpool teammates.
He played 595 club career games and scored 51 goals. He also assisted 44 others. His title haul stands at 14, one of which is the UEFA Champions League.