The number 26 jersey is not one that a lot of footballers wear, given that such a high number is often reserved for youth team players. 

However, some players, past and present, chose to don the jersey for reasons not connected to football. 

Superstitions, the desire to follow one’s role models and significant dates in the lives of players or their loved ones, are some of the factors that play huge roles in decisions when it comes to choosing a particular number, and No. 26 has been picked up for several reasons.

Let’s take a look at how retired and active players who have donned the jersey number have fared in it.

Andrew Robertson

  • Club: Dundee United (2013/14)
  • Hull City (2014 – 2016)
  • Liverpool (2017 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Nine
  • Appearances: 352
  • Goals/Assists: 17/69
  • Trophies: Eight 

The Scotland international left-back, 28 (1994), has played in the number 26 jersey for the majority of his career, winning the 2016 Championship play-offs, one Premier League title, one FA Cup, one League Cup, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup in it thus far.

Robertson has revealed that while there is no real meaning behind his decision to keep wearing the number, he has done so because it was the only number available when he joined Dundee United, and some things have fallen on the 26th since then, including the birth of his son, and it is why it now means a lot to him.

He has won all his winners’ medals in the jersey, with a total of 20 goals and 75 assists in 434 club games to his name so far.

Robertson, a two-time PFA Team of the Year member and 2019 UEFA Team of the Year member has three goals in 59 international games for the Tartan Terriers.

Arthur Masuaku

  • Club: Olympiacos Piraeus (2014 – 2016)
  • West Ham United (2017 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Eight 
  • Appearances: 203
  • Goals/Assists: Four/18
  • Trophies: Three 

The Congolese left-back, 28 (1993) has sported the number 26 shirt for most of his career, winning two Super League Greece titles and a Greek Cup in it.

Masuaku made the Super League Greece Team of the Year in 2014-15 and 2015-16, with five goals and 25 assists in 238 games so far.

The Lille-born full-back has a goal in 11 appearances for the Leopards of Congo DR.

Dennis Praet

  • Club: RSC Anderlecht (2011 – 2013)
  • Leicester City (2019 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Six 
  • Appearances: 115
  • Goals/Assists: 10/15
  • Trophies: Five 

The 28-year-old (1994) Belgian midfielder wore the number 26 jersey in his first two seasons at Anderlecht before taking it up again when he joined the Foxes, and has since won two Belgian Pro League titles, two Belgian Super Cups and one FA Cup while doing so. 

Praet has another Belgian Pro League and Belgian Super Cup to his name while playing in the number 10 shirt.

The 2014 Belgian Golden Shoe winner has 36 goals and 52 assists in 378 club games, with two goals in 15 international games for the Red Devils of Belgium.

Edgar Davids

  • Club: Juventus (1998 – 2004)
  • Years jersey was worn: Seven 
  • Appearances: 243
  • Goals/Assists: 13/20
  • Trophies: Five 

While he is fondly remembered for his dreadlocked hair and the protective goggles he wore due to glaucoma, the former Dutch midfielder sported the number 26 jersey all through his playing career with the Old Lady, winning three Serie A titles and two Supercoppa Italianas. 

Davids also won 11 other trophies, ending his career with 50 goals and 37 assists in 590 games.

The 1998 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team member and UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament member in 2000 played 74 games for the Netherlands, scoring six times.

Emiliano Martinez

  • Club: Arsenal (2014 – 2020)
  • Sheffield Wednesday (2013/14)
  • Rotherham United (2014/15)
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers (2015/16)
  • Reading (2018/19)
  • Aston Villa (2020/21)
  • Years jersey was worn: Seven 
  • Appearances: 36
  • Trophies: Four 

The Argentine goalkeeper, 30 (1992), spent the last six seasons of his time with the Gunners (including four of his loan spells) and his first campaign at Villa Park in the number 26 shirt, winning one FA Cup and three FA Community Shields, but has since switched to number 1 to reflect his status as starter.

Martinez has played 181 club games so far, with 18 international caps for La Albiceleste under his belt.

The 2020-21 Aston Villa Player of the Season won the 2021 Copa América and 2022 CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions with his country, picking up the Golden Glove and making the Team of the Tournament at the former.

John Terry

  • Club: Chelsea (1998 – 2017)
  • Aston Villa (2017/18)
  • Years jersey was worn: 20
  • Appearances: 753
  • Goals/Assists: 68/28
  • Trophies: 17

The former English centre-back spent all but one season of his playing career at club level in the number 26 jersey, winning five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Europa League. 

Terry opted to wear the number when he turned pro at Stamford Bridge so as to sit beside the number 25 in the dressing room at the time, Gianfranco Zola.

He played a total of 756 games, making the PFA Team of the Year four times and the FIFA FIFPro World XI five times.

Terry played 78 games for the Three Lions, scoring six times.

Jonathan Kodjia

  • Club: Aston Villa (2016/17, 2018-2020)
  • Al-Gharafa (2020 – 2022)
  • Years jersey was worn: Six 
  • Appearances: 124
  • Goals/Assists: 49/Eight 
  • Trophies: One 

The Ivorian forward, 32 (1989), spent his time with the Villans in the number 26 shirt, briefly vacating it for Terry in 2017-18.

Kodjia wanted to wear the number 22 jersey – which he has worn at his previous clubs – but upon finding out that Gary Gardner already occupied it, he opted for No. 26 instead, helping the Midlands outfit win the Championship play-offs in 2019.

The 2015 Ligue 2 Player of the Year has played 338 club games so far, with 106 goals and 22 assists to his name.

Reims-born Kodjia has 11 goals in 27 games for the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire. 

Karl Darlow

  • Club: Newcastle United (2015 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Eight 
  • Appearances: 100
  • Trophies: One

The 31-year-old (1990) English goalie has played in the number 26 shirt since moving to St. James’ Park, helping them win the Championship in 2016-17.

Darlow has played 229 club games so far, and has never played for England at any level, although he is also eligible to represent Wales.

Kalidou Koulibaly

  • Club: Napoli (2014 – 2022)
  • Chelsea (2022 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Nine
  • Appearances: 323
  • Goals/Assists: 15/Nine
  • Trophies: Two 

The Senegalese centre-back, 31 (1991) has worn the number 26 jersey since his Serie A days, winning one Coppa Italia and one Supercoppa Italiana in it.

Koulibaly could not get the number 25 or number 5 jerseys – which he wore at Metz and Genk, respectively – at Napoli, so his wife and family told him to pick up 26 as he and his spouse were born on 20 June (20/6) in the same year and hospital.

He received Terry’s blessing to wear the shirt upon moving to Chelsea as the number had not been assigned to another player since the former Blues skipper left.

Koulibaly, who made the Serie A Team of the Year four times and emerged as Serie A Best Defender in 2018-19, also has one Belgian Cup to his name and has played in 480 club games so far, scoring 21 times and assisting 15 others. 

The France-born defender has played 64 games for the Lions of Teranga of Senegal, helping them win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (played in 2022 due to Covid-19).

Phil Bardsley

  • Club: Manchester United (2004 – 2006, 2007/08)
  • Sunderland AFC (2007/08)
  • Burnley (2017 – 2022)
  • Years jersey was worn: Eight 
  • Appearances: 106
  • Goals/Assists: Zero/One 
  • Trophies: One 

The 37-year-old (1985) Scottish defender sported the number 26 jersey during his days at Man Utd, briefly with the Black Cats and all through his time at Turf Moor before becoming a free agent at the end of 2021-22, winning the 2007 FA Community Shield in it.

Bardsley has played 401 club games so far, scoring 14 times and assisting 12 times.

He played 13 games for Scotland.

Riyad Mahrez

  • Club: Leicester City (2013 – 2018)
  • Manchester City (2018 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: 10
  • Appearances: 377
  • Goals/Assists: 111/84
  • Trophies: 10

The 31-year-old (1991) Algerian winger has rocked the number 26 jersey since moving to the Premier League, winning four top-flight titles, one Championship title, one FA Cup, three League Cups and one FA Community Shield in it. 

Mahrez had a choice between number 28 and number 26 when he joined the Foxes, and he picked the latter.

Having won the Premier League and gotten to the Champions League quarter-final with it while with Leicester, the France-born decided to retain it when he joined Man City despite being given the chance to pick the number 11 shirt.

The 2015-16 PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Fans’ Player of the Year has played 531 games so far at club level, scoring 146 goals and assisting 96 times.

Mahrez has 27 goals in 77 games for the Desert Warriors of Algeria, helping them win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 and emerging as the CAF African Footballer of the Year in 2016.

Stefan Radu

  • Club: FC Dinamo 1948 (2006 – 2008)
  • Lazio (2007/08, 2009 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: 16
  • Appearances: 477 
  • Goals/Assists: 10/20
  • Trophies: Five 

The 35-year-old (1986) Romanian defender has played in the number 26 shirt for most of his career, winning one Liga I, two Coppa Italias and two Supercoppa Italianas in it.

Radu, who is Lazio’s all-time appearance (424) holder, has won four other trophies across the two clubs he has represented so far, with a total of 11 goals and 21 assists in 530 club games.

He played 13 international games for the Tricolours of Romania before retiring in 2013 due to his strained relationship with the national football federation.

Shinji Kagawa

  • Club: Cerezo Osaka (2006 – 2008)
  • Manchester United (2012 – 2015)
  • Years jersey was worn: Five 
  • Appearances: 128
  • Goals/Assists: 29/10
  • Trophies: Two 

The 33-year-old (1989) Japanese midfielder became one of the popular players to wear the number 26 jersey while at Old Trafford, winning one Premier League title and one FA Community Shield in it.

Kagawa has won five other trophies elsewhere, with 132 goals and 93 assists in 467 club games so far.

He featured in 97 international games for Japan, scoring 31 times and winning the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. 

Sven Ulreich

  • Club: Bayern Munich (2015 – 2020, 2021 – date)
  • Hamburger SV (2020/21)
  • Years jersey was worn: Eight 
  • Appearances: 111
  • Trophies: 16

The 34-year-old (1988) German goalie has sported the number 26 shirt since joining the Bundesliga giants and during a brief spell with Hamburger, winning six titles, three DFB-Pokals, five DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup. 

Ulreich has played 394 games so far, proving to be a very reliable cover for Manuel Neuer and emerging as Bayern Munich Player of the Season in 2017-18.

While he represented Germany at under-16, under-19 and under-21 levels, he is yet to play for the senior national team, only receiving a call-up.

Tom Davies 

  • Club: Everton (2016 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Seven 
  • Appearances: 164
  • Goals/Assists: Seven/Eight 
  • Trophies: Zero 

The 24-year-old (1998) English midfielder has donned the number 26 jersey since turning pro at Goodison Park, and will hope to spend the rest of his career with the Toffees.

Davies emerged as Everton Young Player of the Season in 2016-17, winning the Goal of the Season and Performance of the Season awards.

He represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels and will hope to become a senior team player going forward.

Other players to wear number 26

Other players who wore number 26 include:

  • Andy Dow
  • Ben Foster
  • Charlie Adam
  • Cillian Sheridan
  • Craig Gordon
  • Dean Henderson
  • Diego Contento
  • Emmanuel Frimpong
  • Ethan Ampadu
  • Fabian Caballero
  • Folarin Balogun
  • Fraser Forster
  • Gabriel Obertan
  • Igors Stepanovs
  • Ilaix Moriba
  • Inaki Pena
  • Javier Sánchez Broto
  • Jay Spearing
  • Jim Will 
  • John McBride
  • Jon Pacheco
  • Jonathan Soriano
  • Jørgen Nielsen
  • Kundai Benyu
  • Laurent Charvet
  • Lee Harper 
  • Lloyd Kelly
  • Logan Bailly
  • Lubos Kamenar
  • Manucho
  • Mason Greenwood
  • Massimo Taibi
  • Michael Duberry
  • Moritz Volz
  • Neil Clement
  • Nemanja Vidic‎
  • Nicklas Bendtner
  • Paul Anderson
  • Paul Shields
  • Richie Partridge
  • Scott Carson
  • Tiago Ilori
  • Tim Krul
  • Tony Warner
  • Viktor Noring
  • Zhang Yalin