Original football numberings go from one to 11 to represent every player on the pitch. Other numbers belonging to players are usually not regarded as first team starters but on this list, we take a keen focus on the number 12 jersey. We highlight the players that gave prestige to the number 12 and made it secondary in name only. 

Thierry Henry 

Throughout his international career, Thierry Henry dawned the number 12 jersey and could be considered the greatest player on this list. 

Born in Les Ulis, France, Henry rose to the top of the football industry and is now known as one of the greatest strikers of all time. He rarely wore the 12 shirt for club teams he played for but his entire senior international career saw him dominate with that number on his back. 

He made his senior international debut against South Africa in 1997 at the age of twenty and it didn’t take him long to make an impact for the national team. The following year, he was selected to be at the World Cup where he announced himself to the world and left the tournament as a World Cup winner and France’s top scorer with three goals. Two years later, he would score three goals as France won the European Championship in 2000. He also won the FIFA Confederations cup in 2003. 

He amassed 123 caps for the national team and is the all time top scorer for France with 51 goals to his name. 

He was a player that left a distinguished legacy at club level too but it was for France, wearing the number 12 on his back, that he brought joy to an entire nation. 


The Rio de Janeiro born left back spent 15 years at Real Madrid wearing number 12 on the back of his jersey. He wowed crowds with his skill and grace and won trophies while doing so. Arguably the greatest fullback of his generation, Marcelo has won everything there is to win as a club player.

Marcelo started his career at Fluminense, where he spent three years in the youth system and one season on the senior team. He moved to Real Madrid in 2006 as a fresh faced 19 year old who was seen as the long term heir to Roberto Carlos’s throne. Fast forward to 15 seasons later and you could say that he even surpassed Roberto Carlos in terms of status in the Los Blancos ranks. 

He has made 546 appearances, eight most in Real Madrid’s history. He has found the back of the net 38 times and assisted 103 goals for Los Blancos. 

He won six La Liga titles,  five UEFA Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups, four FIFA Club World Cups, two Copa Del Rey, five Supercopa De Espana and has six FIFPro World eleven selections. 

John Obi Mikel 

The former Nigerian international spent a decade at Chelsea and was a key part of the Blues team. The Jos born midfielder signed for Chelsea in 2006 aged 19 for 16 million pounds. He wore the number 12 throughout his spell at the club. 

Whether as a starter or from the subs bench, Mikel was a consistent performer in the Chelsea midfield and played the role of water carrier as well as anyone else could. Mikel ranks 17th all time in terms of appearances made for Chelsea with 372 games played in 10 seasons as the Blues’ number 12. 

In that time he won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, a football League Cup, a UEFA Champions League and a UEFA Europa League.  

Julio Cesar 

Julio Cesar spent his prime years at Inter Milan as their first choice goalkeeper and wore the number 12 shirt while playing a key role in one of the most successful periods in the Italian club’s history. 

Cesar started his career in Flamengo, where he spent eight years before joining Inter Milan via Chievo in 2005. The Rio de Janeiro born goalkeeper quickly established himself as the first choice goalkeeper in his first season, making 40 appearances. 

In total, Cesar has played 300 games for the Nerazzurri and in that time has won five Scudetti, one UEFA Champions League, one FIFA Club World Cup, three Coppa Italia and four Supercoppa Italianas. He is also a two time Serie A goalkeeper of the year, 2009/2010 UEFA Club goalkeeper of the year and a hall of famer at Inter Milan. 

Olivier Giroud 

The tall French striker now plays for AC Milan but Olivier Giroud once wore the number 12 jersey for Arsenal football club where he spent six seasons as their center forward. 

Giroud joined Arsenal in 2012 fresh off winning the League 1 title for Montpellier HSC and the Frenchman managed 17 goals in 47 appearances in his first season with the Gunners. 

Giroud played 253 times for Arsenal and scored 105 goals, winning three FA Cups and three community shields in six years.  

Alex Sandro

He might not be as great as the previous Brazilians on this list but Sao Paulo born Alex Sandro had made a name for himself as one of the best left backs in Europe and has done it wearing the number 12 jersey for Juventus. 

He signed for the Old Lady in 2015 after spending seven years at FC Porto and was given the number 12 shirt on arrival. He was signed to replace the outgoing Patrice Evra and has been the first choice left back for Juventus ever since. 

Eight years and 274 appearances, 15 goals and 26 assists later, Alex Sandro won five Scudetti, four Coppa Italias and one Supercoppa Italiana.

David Fairclough

Affectionately known as a great supersub amongst Liverpool fans, David Fairclough spent eight years wearing the no 12 shirt for his boyhood club. 

In that time he played, he came off the bench to score crucial goals in key European or domestic ties and helped the Reds effort in winning trophies during their golden era. His most famous moment for Liverpool was when he scored the decisive goal in an European quarter final tie against Saint Ettiene in the 83rd minute. That goal helped Liverpool over the line in that tie and they went on to win the European cup that year. 

In the eight years he spent at the club, Fairclough won three First Division League titles, one League Cup, four FA Charity Shields, two European Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.