The number 17 is a number famously worn by attackers who miss out on numbers 7, 9 and 11. It is also considered an intersection between the iconic numbers 10 and 7 and for this reason, it is common among attacking midfielders and wingers.
It is also one of the numbers in football that has evolved beyond just a squad number as it is now employed in marketing for players.
In this article, we will look at some players who have donned the number 17 jersey in the past to great effect, as well as some players who, currently, are wearing and performing very well in the number 17 jersey.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is a Belgian international footballer who plays for Premier League side Manchester City and the Belgian national team. He is an attacking midfielder who is versatile enough to be used on the wings and as a deep-lying playmaker. He is renowned for his vision, accuracy, passing ability and shot power; qualities which are arguably the best in the modern game.
His career as a number 17 started when he signed for Manchester City in 2016 from VfL Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga. Before playing for Wolfsburg, KDB, as he is fondly called, played for KRC Genk in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League and Chelsea in the Premier League. He also spent some time on loan at Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga.
His stock in the football world began to rise in Germany when he first turned out for Bremen between 2012 and 2013. Then Wolfsburg signed him in 2014 to great success. When he signed for Manchester City in 2015, he was already a highly rated midfielder but the move and his new number 17 seemed to breathe new life into him and make him better.
As Manchester City’s number 17, he is second on their all-time assists leader statistics with 90. The leader is a former City player with 95 and this is well within De Bruyne’s reach. He is also the eighth leading assist provider in the Premier League, and holds the record for the most assists in a single season.
Kevin De Bruyne is currently the world’s most valuable midfielder, who will set back any club interested in his signature about €85 million in transfer fees. However, it is unlikely that City will be letting their trusted number 17 go due to his influence at the club.
He has won 16 club titles among which are four Premier League trophies. He has played 541 games so far in his club career and has scored 134 goals while assisting a further 208.
Emmanuel Laurent Petit, known professionally as Emmanuel Petit, is a former French footballer who played as a midfielder for the France national team and clubs across Spain, England and France. Petit first wore the number 17 shirt nine years into his 16-year career, when Arsenal signed him from AS Monaco in 1997.
Petit took to Arsenal like a fish to water, starring in the Arsene Wenger-led black horse teams of the late nineties to the early 2000s. After playing at Monaco for nine years as a central midfielder, Wenger switched him to defensive midfield and as Arsenal’s number 17, he formed a solid partnership with Patrick Vieira. He became a fan favourite at Arsenal due to his tirelessness, work-rate, strength and tackling.
He was also an asset in attack because he was good in the air and had a keen eye for spotting spaces and running into them to provide an extra man to ruffle the feathers of opposition defences. He was also a brilliant passer of the ball who had uncanny vision and accuracy. He was a joy to watch as a player at Arsenal and was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League in the three years he played for Arsenal.
His debut season as a number 17 proved to be his best season as a footballer. After signing for Arsenal and getting the number 17 jersey, he played a protagonist’s role in their domestic double campaign before going on to don the number 17 jersey at France in that summer to win the World Cup.
Injuries hindered the rest of his career but he managed to last for four more years after leaving Arsenal in 2000.
In the course of his career, he played 500 club games, scored 19 goals and assisted 40 more. Including the World Cup which he won with the France national team, he won eight titles in his career.
Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, professionally known as Nani, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays for Melbourne Victory in the Australian A-League. He is widely regarded as one of the most talented wingers in his generation.
Nani made his name in Manchester United who signed him from Sporting Clube de Portugal (Sporting Lisbon) in 2007. He was widely touted as the next best talent from the club after Cristiano Ronaldo and for a time, they both ran the show at Manchester United. They also combined to great effect in the Portugal national team, so much that Nani’s number 17 jersey brought as much fear to defences as Ronaldo’s number 7 jersey.
Nani is a winger who is comfortable on both wings but has a preference for the right wing. Nani is a speedy, tricky winger whose style is a mix of the old school way of wing play and the new school way which requires wingers to narrow the attack and overload the opponents box.
Nani is in the class of players who could have dominated in the number 7 shirt or the number 10 shirt, who merged both numbers to give life to the number 17 shirt.
Nani has scored 123 goals and provided 141 assists in 558 club games so far. He has won 17 titles, just like the number on his back. One of those titles is the UEFA Euro Championship with Portugal.
Ciro Immobile is an Italian professional striker who represents the Italy national team and SS Lazio, a club in the Italian Serie A, where he serves as captain. He is a particularly prolific striker whose goal-scoring instincts are among the best that Italy has ever seen.
As a striker, he is renowned for his incredible work rate, ability to win lots of fouls, his movement, and his running behind the defenders into spaces. He is a four-time Capocannoniere winner, which is the award given to the highest goalscorer in the Serie A.
After a journeyman career that took him all around Italy, to Spain and Germany, he landed in Lazio and got the number 18 shirt for the first time. He had already won one Capocannoniere award but with Lazio’s number 17 shirt, he became an even better striker.
He equalled the record for most Serie A goals and won three more Capocannoniere awards with Lazio. He also became a regular with Italy and took the number 17 shirt because of the luck it brought him. Now, there’s no Italy without Ciro Immobile.
He has played 515 games to date and has scored 305 goals while assisting 69 others. He has worn six titles, one of which is the UEFA Euro Championship with Italy.
David Sergio Trezeguet, known professionally as David Trezeguet, is a former French footballer who played as a striker for clubs in France, Italy, India, UAE, Argentina and Spain. He is one of the players on the FIFA 100 list of 125 living football legends, a list prepared by Pele.
He was a prolific striker who could score with a few touches. He was also a very excellent poacher. With him around, defences had to be even sharper because he had an uncanny ability to pounce on any loose balls and create a goalscoring chance or finish it up himself. He was a very pacy player too who rarely lost in a foot race against any player.
He first wore the number 17 at Juventus and it was at the club that he became the player he is revered as. Due to his abilities as a striker, he was given the nickname Cobra, because of his ability to strike with venom when the opponent least expected it. He is one of the jersey’s most famous players.
In his career, he played 541 games and scored 265 goals. He also assisted 46 others. His silverware collection is also rich, as he won a number of prominent titles including the World Cup and the UEFA Euro Championship. In total, he bagged 10 trophies in his career, eight of which were at club level.