Jersey numbers are very important in football, with a lot of them representing the player’s position on the pitch. 

Numbers 1 to 11 are often reserved for the first-team and regular players, with left-backs wearing number 3 most of the time. 

That is not always the case, though, as some players in other positions may opt for the number for personal reasons. However, the No. 3 jersey often belongs to the team’s first-choice defender on the left side of the pitch, and here are some players who have sported the shirt at club and international levels and how they performed in it.

Asamoah Gyan

  • Club: Udinese (2003/04, 2007/08)
  • Stade Rennais (2010/11)
  • Sunderland (2011/12)
  • Al-Ain (2011 – 2015)
  • Shanghai SIPG (2015/16)
  • Al-Ahli Dubai Club (2016/17)
  • Kayserispor (2017 – 2019)
  • NorthEast United (2019/20)
  • Legon Cities (2020/21)
  • Years jersey was worn: 14
  • Appearances: 233
  • Goals/Assists: 258/26
  • Trophies: Five 

The legendary Ghanian forward and journeyman played in the number 3 jersey for most of his career, and often ensured that the number was added in front of another one if someone else already occupied No. 3 at any club he went to.

Gyan also wore number 3 during his international career with the Black Stars of Ghana, making the CAF Team of the Year thrice and is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 51 goals in 109 appearances.

He won three UAE Pro League titles, one UAE President’s Cup and one UAE Super Cup in the shirt, and was named BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2010.

Gyan revealed that his older brother Baffour Gyan inspired his decision to wear the number 3 jersey having also worn it when he was with the Ghanaian national team.

The Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) in Christianity and the fact that people often count from one to three before taking some actions also inspired his decision, and the joint-top African goalscorer (six) in the history of the World Cup is one of the few who wore the number despite not being a left-back.

Gyan ended his career with 216 goals and 40 assists in 417 club games.

Ashley Cole 

  • Club: Arsenal (2001 – 2006)
  • Chelsea (2006 – 2014)
  • AS Roma (2014 – 2016)
  • Los Angeles Galaxy (2016 – 2018)
  • Years jersey was worn: 19
  • Appearances: 674 
  • Goals/Assists: 35/72
  • Trophies: 16

Widely regarded as the best left-back of his generation, the former England international only spent three seasons without the number 3 shirt on him.

Cole won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, three FA Community Shields, one League Cup, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Europa League as a No. 3, making the PFA Team of the Year four times.

He ended his career with 21 goals and 74 assists in 702 club appearances, playing 107 international games for the Three Lions and emerging as England Player of the Year in 2010.

Bacary Sagna

  • Club: Arsenal (2007 – 2014)
  • Manchester City (2014 – 2017)
  • Years jersey was worn: 10
  • Appearances: 370
  • Goals/Assists: Five/32
  • Trophies: Two 

While most right-backs don the number 2 jersey, the former French player opted to rock number 3 during his time in the Premier League, winning one FA Cup with the Gunners and one League Cup with Man City in it.

Sagna won two other trophies at two of the other three clubs he played for, ending his career with eight goals and 40 assists in 544 games.

Once described by Arsene Wenger as the best right-back in the Premier League during his prime years, Bac, as his teammates often called him, made the PFA Team of the Year twice and earned 65 international caps for Les Bleus. 

Danny Rose 

  • Club: Sunderland (2012/13)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (2013 – 2019)
  • Watford (2021/22)
  • Years jersey was worn: Nine
  • Appearances: 223
  • Goals/Assists: 10/25
  • Trophies: None 

The 32-year-old English left-back has not been able to win anything in his career, and it remains to be seen if he has plans to keep playing after his contract with the Hornets expired at the end of 2021-22.

Rose has scored 11 times and assisted 33 times in 295 games so far, making the PFA Team of the Year twice and playing 29 international games for the Three Lions.

Denis Irwin

  • Club: Manchester United (1990 – 2002)
  • Years jersey was worn: 12
  • Appearances: 529
  • Goals/Assists: 33/23
  • Trophies: 19

The former Irish player featured primarily as a left-back for the majority of his career but also played at right-back, and that made him wear both the number 3 and number 2 jerseys during his playing days.

Irwin only wore the shirt for Man Utd and Republic of Ireland, winning seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, four FA Charity Shields, one UEFA Champions League, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, one European Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. 

That makes him the joint most successful Irish footballer in history alongside Roy Keane.

He ended his career with 43 goals and 25 assists in 900 games, making 56 international appearances for his country and scoring four times. 

Sir Alex Ferguson regarded the English Football Hall of Famer as, pound for pound, his greatest ever signing, and he made the Premier League’s PFA Team of the Year twice. 

Diego Godin

  • Club: Club Nacional (2006 – 2007)
  • Atlético Mineiro (2021/22)
  • Years jersey was worn: Two
  • Appearances: 55
  • Goals/Assists: Three/Zero 
  • Trophies: Two 

The 36-year-old (1986) Uruguayan centre-back has worn number 3 briefly at club level, majorly sporting number 2, but the No.3 has been his only number for country.

Godin has won the Supercopa do Brasil and Campeonato Mineiro in it.

The veteran defender has played 700 club games so far, scoring 43 times, assisting 23 times and winning 10 trophies. 

Godin made the La Liga Team of the Season twice and was named La Liga Best Defender in 2015-16.

Uruguay’s all-time most-capped player has eight goals in 159 games, winning the 2011 Copa América and 2018 and 2019 China Cups with the South Americans.

Eder Militao

  • Club: Porto (2018/19)
  • Real Madrid (2019 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Five 
  • Appearances: 154
  • Goals/Assists: Nine/Nine
  • Trophies: Six 

The Brazilian, 24 (1998) plays as a central defender and right-back but has donned the number 3 shirt since moving to Europe, winning two La Liga titles, two Supercopa de Españas, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup to date.

Militao has 13 goals and 10 assists in 201 club games, making the Primeira Liga Team of the Year in 2018-19 and La Liga Team of the Season in 2021-22.

Los Blancos’ 10th most expensive signing of all time has a goal in 23 games for A Seleção, winning the 2018 Superclásico de las Américas and 2019 Copa América with them.

Eric Bailly

  • Club: Manchester United (2016 – 2022)
  • Olympique Marseille (2022 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Seven 
  • Appearances: 118
  • Goals/Assists: One/Two
  • Trophies: Three 

The Ivory Coast international defender, 28 (1994), has sported the number 3 shirt since joining the Red Devils, winning one League Cup, one FA Community Shield and one UEFA Europa League.

Bailly has played 191 club games so far, scoring twice and assisting thrice.

He has scored two goals in 46 international caps for the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire, making the CAF Team of the Year thrice and winning the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Fabinho Tavares

  • Club: Liverpool (2018 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Five 
  • Appearances: 179
  • Goals/Assists: 11/Eight 
  • Trophies: Five

The Brazilian player, 28 (1993), has worn the number 3 jersey since moving to Anfield, winning one Premier League title, one League Cup, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup so far.

Fabinho mainly plays as a defensive midfielder, but can also be deployed as a right-back or centre-back, and has played 443 games so far, scoring 44 times, assisting 31 times and winning the Ligue 1 with AS Monaco in 2015-16.

He has played 28 games for Brazil but has missed out on the recent trophy-winning squads. 

Gareth Bale

  • Club: Tottenham Hotspur (2008 – 2012)
  • Years jersey was worn: Four 
  • Appearances: 147
  • Goals/Assists: 27/41
  • Trophies: None 

The 33-year-old (1989) Welsh winger started his career as a left-back, wearing the number 3 shirt for the majority of his time with Spurs.

While Bale won nothing in the jersey at Tottenham, he has since won 16 trophies – with all coming at Real Madrid where he sported number 11.

The two-time PFA Players’ Player of the Year and 2012-13 Premier League Player of the Season has played 552 club games, scoring 185 times and assisting 139 times.

The Wales international has scored 40 goals in 108 games for the Dragons.

Gerard Pique

  • Club: Barcelona (2008 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: 15
  • Appearances: 608
  • Goals/Assists: 53/15
  • Trophies: 30

The Spanish centre-back, 35 (1987), has rocked the number 3 shirt since his senior career with the Catalans, and he did the same all through his international playing career.

Pique wears No. 3 because the club maintains a rigid number system through their youth ranks, and the shirt was used by a central defender.

La Masia played with three defenders while he was there, with the right-back wearing number two, the left-back wearing number five and the centre-back wearing three.

Pique has since won eight La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey (Spanish Cups), six Supercopa de España (Spanish Super Cups), three UEFA Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.


He won the three other trophies of his career while with Man Utd.

Pique has since played 659 club games, scoring 58 times and assisting 16 times.

The four-time FIFA FIFPro World XI member scored five times in 102 games for La Roja before retiring, winning the 2010 World Cup and 2012 UEFA European Championship.

Giorgio Chiellini

  • Club: AS Livorno (2001/02, 2003/04)
  • Juventus (2005 – 2022)
  • Years jersey was worn: 19
  • Appearances: 616
  • Goals/Assists: 40/25
  • Trophies: 21

The Italian centre-back, 38 (1984), played as a left-back earlier in his career, hence the reason why he wore the number 3 jersey all through his playing days at Turin.

Chiellini won one Serie C1 title, one Serie B title, nine Serie A titles, five Coppa Italias and five Supercoppa Italianas in the shirt, with a total of 43 goals and 28 assists in 681 club appearances under his belt. 


He made the Serie A Team of the Year five times, emerging as Serie A Defender of the Year thrice.

Chiellini retired from international football in 2022 with eight goals in 117 caps.

Italy’s joint fourth-highest appearance holder won the Summer Olympic Games in 2004 and the UEFA European Championship in 2021 with his country.

Kieran Tierney

  • Club: Arsenal (2019 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Four 
  • Appearances: 94
  • Goals/Assists: Four/12
  • Trophies: Two 

The 25-year-old (1997) Scotland international left-back has donned the number 3 shirt since joining the Gunners, winning one FA Cup and one FA Community Shield so far.

Tierney picked up eight trophies during his time at Celtic, making the PFA Scotland Team of the Year thrice and will hope to keep winning at Arsenal.

He has played 264 club games so far, scoring 12 goals and assisting 49 others.

The three-time PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year and SFWA Young Player of the Year has scored once in 34 senior international appearances for his country so far.

Leighton Baines

  • Club: Everton (2007 – 2020)
  • Years jersey was worn: 13
  • Appearances: 420
  • Goals/Assists: 39/58
  • Trophies: None 

The former Toffees left-back was always in the number 3 top during his days at Goodison Park, and he ended his career with 43 goals and 68 assists in 582 games.

Baines made the PFA Team of the Year twice, was named Everton Player of the Season twice and Everton Players’ Player of the Season thrice.

The Kirkby-born Blues legend scored once in 30 international appearances for the Three Lions, with no trophy to his name at club or country level.

Lucio

  • Club: Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2002 – 2004)
  • Bayern Munich (2004 – 2008)
  • São Paulo (2012/13)
  • Palmeiras (2013/14)
  • FC Goa (2014 – 2016)
  • Years jersey was worn: 11
  • Appearances: 350
  • Goals/Assists: 24/16
  • Trophies: Eight 

O Cavalo is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs of his generation, but he wore the number 3 jersey for the majority of his career as the No. 3 and No. 4 jerseys are traditionally worn by central defenders in Brazil.

He won three Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokal cups and two DFB-Ligapokal cups in it, making the kicker Bundesliga Team of the Season six times.

Lucio won seven other trophies elsewhere, ending his career with 49 goals and 27 assists in 672 club games. 

The 2010 FIFA FIFPro World XI member and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Fair Play Award winner played 105 games for his country, scoring four times and winning two FIFA Confederations Cups and the 2002 FIFA World Cup while playing at the heart of their defence.

Marcos Alonso

  • Club: Bolton Wanderers (2011 – 2013)
  • Fiorentina (2013/14)
  • Chelsea (2016 – 2022)
  • Years jersey was worn: Nine 
  • Appearances: 258
  • Goals/Assists: 34/25
  • Trophies: Six 

The Spanish left-back, 31 (1990), played in the number 3 shirt in his last three clubs, winning one Premier League title, one FA Cup, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup while at the Stamford Bridge outfit, making the PFA Team of the Year in 2017-18.

Alonso has played 405 games so far, scoring 42 goals and assisting 34.

The Real Madrid academy graduate has nine caps for Spain.

Paolo Maldini

  • Club: AC Milan (1985 – 2009)
  • Years jersey was worn: 24
  • Appearances: 901
  • Goals/Assists: 33/43
  • Trophies: 26

Il Capitano spent all his seasons, except his debut campaign (where he made just a solitary appearance), at San Siro in the number 3 shirt and is widely regarded as one of the best left-backs of all time.

Maldini won seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italianas, five European Cups/UEFA Champions League, five European/UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup in the shirt, emerging as Serie A Defender of the Year in 2004 and making the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2005.

Milan have since retired Maldini’s number 3 shirt, but stated that it will be bequeathed to one of his sons if one of them were to make the club’s senior team, ensuring the name remains on the jersey.

The AC Milan Hall of Famer and Italian Football Hall of Famer made 126 appearances for his national side mostly in the No. 3 shirt, scoring seven times.

Patrice Evra

  • Club: AS Monaco (2002 – 2006)
  • Manchester United (2006 – 2014)
  • Years jersey was worn: 13
  • Appearances: 542
  • Goals/Assists: 13/42
  • Trophies: 15

The Senegal-born former left-back rocked the number 3 jersey while playing for the Ligue 1 outfit and Red Devils, winning one Coupe de la Ligue, five Premier League titles, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. 

Evra made the PFA Premier League Team of the Year thrice and was included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2009.

He won five other trophies, all coming when he was at Juventus.

The Frenchman played a total of 734 games, registering 24 goals and 49 assists.

He played 81 games for Les Bleus, wearing the number 3 most of the time. 

Patrick van Aanholt

  • Club: Sunderland (2014 – 2017)
  • Crystal Palace (2017 – 2021)
  • Galatasaray (2022 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Nine
  • Appearances: 236
  • Goals/Assists: 23/17
  • Trophies: None 

The Dutch left-back, 32 (1990), spent the majority of his time in the Premier League in the number 3 jersey and has played a total of 410 games so far in his career, with 35 goals and 34 assists under his belt.

He has won no silverware yet and has played 19 games for the Flying Dutchmen.

Pepe

  • Club: Porto (2006/07, 2019 – date)
  • Real Madrid (2007 – 2017)
  • Years jersey was worn: 15
  • Appearances: 482
  • Goals/Assists: 23/29
  • Trophies: 23

Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira, 39 (1983), has played in the number 3 jersey for most of his career despite being a centre-back, winning three Primeira Liga, two Taça de Portugal, three Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, one Intercontinental Cup, three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two Supercopa de Españas, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups in it.

He has won three other trophies in other jersey numbers, with a total of 39 goals and 34 assists in 678 games to his name.

Brazil-born Pepe has played 128 games for Portugal, scoring seven times and winning the 2016 UEFA European Championship and 2018-19 UEFA Nations League so far.

Roberto Carlos

  • Club: Real Madrid (1996 – 2007)
  • Fenerbahce (2007 – 2010)
  • Anzhi Makhachkala (2010 – 2012)
  • Delhi Dynamos (2014/15)
  • Years jersey was worn: 17
  • Appearances: 662
  • Goals/Assists: 85/114
  • Trophies: 15

While he wore number 6 all through his appearances for Brazil as it is traditionally reserved for left-backs in the country, the legendary Carlos donned the number 3 shirt for the majority of his club career, winning four La Liga titles, three Supercopa de Españas, three UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, two Intercontinental Cups and two Turkish Super Cups.

He won five other trophies with Palmeiras, ending his career with 117 goals and 124 assists in 985 appearances.

The 2002 Ballon d’Or runner-up scored 11 times in 127 games for his country, winning the 2002 FIFA World Cup, two Copa Américas and one FIFA Confederations Cup.

Ruben Dias

  • Club: Manchester City (2020 – date)
  • Years jersey was worn: Three 
  • Appearances: 99
  • Goals/Assists: Four/Five
  • Trophies: Three 

The Portuguese centre-back, 25 (1997), is one of the popular players that wear the number 3 jersey, winning two Premier League titles and a League Cup in it so far, with his two other trophies coming while he was with Benfica.

Dias has played a total of 291 games at club level so far, scoring 16 times and assisting 14 times.

The PFA Premier League Team of the Year member, UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season member, FIFA FIFPro World XI member, Manchester City Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season and Premier League Player of the Season in 2020-21 has played 39 games for Portugal, scoring twice and winning the 2018-19 UEFA

Other players to wear the number 3 jersey

  • Abelardo
  • Abel Xavier
  • Albert Celades
  • Albert Ferrer
  • Aldair
  • Alfredo Amarillo
  • Andreas Brehme
  • Antonio Olmo
  • Bixente Lizarazu
  • Bjørn Tore Kvarme
  • Bülent Korkmaz
  • Christian Ziege 
  • Clive Charles
  • Cristóbal Parralo
  • Curta
  • David Burrows
  • Eladio Silvestre
  • Enrique Álvarez Costas
  • Éric Abidal 
  • Frank De Boer
  • Frank Rijkaard
  • Frédéric Déhu
  • Gabriel Milito
  • Gaëtan Bong 
  • Gallego
  • Gianluca Zambrotta
  • Gleison Bremer
  • Günther Neukirchner
  • Igors Stepanovs
  • Jaap Stam
  • Jesus Vallejo
  • John Scales 
  • Jose Antonio Camacho
  • José Ramón Alexanko
  • José Seguer
  • Juan Pablo Sorín
  • Julian Dicks
  • Lluís Carreras 
  • Mamadou Sakho
  • Marinho Peres
  • Mauricio Pellegrino
  • Matt Targett
  • Maya Yoshida
  • Michel Soulier
  • Miguel Ángel Nadal
  • Migueli
  • Mohamed Kalon
  • Naoki Matsuda
  • Patrik Andersson
  • Paul Breitner
  • Paul Konchesky
  • Pep Guardiola 
  • Sígfrid Gràcia
  • Sergi Barjuán
  • Steve Finnan
  • Thiago Motta
  • Thiago Silva
  • Xabi Alonso