In soccer, every number on the back of a jersey tells a unique story, and the tale of number 14 is filled with natural ability, skills, and unforgettable performances.
As legendary coach Johan Cruyff once remarked, ‘Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.’ Similarly, the number 14 jersey has been a beacon for some of the game’s most iconic figures.
Best Football Players To Wear Number 14
- Thierry Henry
- Johan Cruyff
- Xabi Alonso
- Jonas Hector
- William Carvalho
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1. Thierry Henry (Arsenal F.C & Barcelona)
Thierry Henry, adorned with the iconic number 14 jersey made his football legacy at Arsenal and beyond. In the rough beginnings of his English stint, doubts loomed as he struggled to find the net.
Yet, as Arsène Wenger reshaped him into a striker, Henry evolved into a goal-scoring maestro, closing his first season with an impressive tally of 26 goals.
The subsequent seasons saw Henry not only emerge as Arsenal’s top scorer but also guide the team to Premier League and FA Cup triumphs, earning accolades like the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
His pivotal role in Arsenal’s invincible 2003-04 season, going unbeaten in the league, marked a historic feat. Despite individual brilliance, international success eluded Henry with France, but his influence at Arsenal remained outstanding.
The 2005-06 season showed Henry’s brilliance as he became Arsenal’s all-time top scorer, further solidifying his status as a legendary number 14.
However, despite personal milestones, the UEFA Champions League title dodged him as Arsenal fell short against Barcelona in the final. In 2007, a surprising transfer to Barcelona saw Henry continue wearing the number 14 jersey.
While initially facing challenges adapting to his new role on the wing, Henry’s class succeeded, contributing to Barcelona’s historic treble-winning season in 2008-09.
The emergence of new talents limited his playing time, prompting a departure from Barcelona. Still, his impact resonates, with fans voting him Arsenal’s greatest-ever player. Thierry Henry is one of the best footballers in history, leaving an unforgettable mark on both Arsenal and Barcelona.
2. Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff, the maestro in the illustrious number 14 jersey, crafted a football legacy that surpasses generations. His journey commenced at Ajax, where a keen-eyed youth coach recognized his talent during impromptu playground matches.
Despite initially favoring baseball, Cruyff’s debut for Ajax marked the beginning of a stellar career, notably highlighted by his pivotal role in Ajax’s resurgence in the mid-60s.
The 1965-66 season saw Cruyff’s scoring prowess, moving Ajax to a league championship. In the ensuing years, he clinched successive league titles, becoming Dutch Footballer of the Year and leading Ajax to their first European Cup final in 1969.
The next decade witnessed Cruyff’s influence key in Ajax’s dominance, winning consecutive European Cups and reshaping football with the revolutionary Total Football philosophy.
In an iconic move, Cruyff wore the number 14 jersey, a departure from the traditional 1 to 11 numbering system.
This symbolic choice mirrored his unique style on the pitch. His impact extended beyond club success as he guided the Dutch national team to the World Cup final in 1974.
Cruyff’s ability to dissect defenses and score with flair made him not only the best player to wear the number 14 but also a symbol of innovation in football. His contributions reverberate through the sport, earning him accolades as one of the best to ever grace the pitch.
3. Mertens (SSC Napoli)
Dries Mertens emerges as one of the best modern players to wear the number 14 jersey, and the career he had with Napoli was spectacular.
In 2013, Mertens made a significant move, becoming Rafael Benítez’s inaugural signing at Napoli for a reported fee of €9.5 million. His impact was swift, with a debut Serie A goal in October and a crucial brace against Sampdoria in January 2014.
Mertens continued to Impress as Napoli’s super-sub, claiming a Supercoppa winners’ medal in 2014 and consistently contributing with goals and assists in the following seasons.
His standout moment came in the 2016–17 Serie A season when, following key departures and injuries, he embraced a central role.
Mertens made his name in history with a remarkable four-goal haul, including the fourth-fastest Serie A hat-trick. His goal-scoring prowess earned him accolades, including the Belgian Footballer of the Year in 2016.
Mertens’ exploits reached a peak when he scored his 100th goal for Napoli in the UEFA Champions League in 2018. The following season, he surpassed club legend Diego Maradona’s goal tally, becoming Napoli’s second-highest scorer. In 2020, Mertens achieved another milestone, becoming Napoli’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
This feat was sealed with a contract extension, and he played a key role in Napoli’s triumph in the Coppa Italia, contributing to the victory in a penalty shootout against Juventus.
As Mertens continues to add to his goal tally, he stands as a living legend having added a great mark on Napoli’s history and making his name among the best number 14 players in football history.
4. Mascherano (F.C Barcelona)
In August 2010, he embarked on a €24 million move to the Catalan giants, fulfilling a dream that he described as a “great joy.”
Mascherano’s debut season at Camp Nou witnessed a blend of bench appearances and an unexpected role shift to the center-back position.
Despite initial challenges, he played a crucial role in Barcelona’s triumph in the 2011 Champions League final against Manchester United, dedicating the victory to Liverpool fans whom he had unintentionally upset during his transfer.
His second season saw Mascherano solidify his place as a center-back, delivering consistent performances. Contract extensions in 2012 and 2014 reinforced his commitment to Barcelona until 2018, with a buyout clause set at €100 million.
Mascherano’s impact continued as he played a key role in Barcelona’s historic treble-winning season in 2015, securing the Champions League, domestic league, and cup.
In the 2015-16 season, following Xavi’s departure, Mascherano assumed the role of the fourth captain. His loyalty to the club was reaffirmed in 2016 with a contract extension until 2019.
A defining moment in Mascherano’s Barcelona journey came on April 26, 2017, when he scored his first and only goal for the club from the penalty spot against Osasuna.
In January 2018, after seven and a half seasons decorated with accolades, Barcelona announced Mascherano’s departure.
His time at Camp Nou may not have been marked by prolific goal-scoring, but his commitment and defensive prowess cemented him as a revered figure, adding another illustrious chapter to the legacy of the number 14 jersey.
5. Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern München)
Xabi Alonso, the maestro in the iconic number 14 jersey, embarked on a remarkable journey across top European clubs with a memorable impact on the footballing world.
Arriving at Liverpool alongside Luis García from Barcelona, Alonso played an important role in manager Rafael Benítez’s squad revolution.
Known for his exceptional passing skills, Alonso’s debut season showed his ability to turn the tide, notably in a comeback victory against Fulham.
One of the best points of his Liverpool tenure was in the 2005 Champions League final, known as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul.’
Trailing 3-0 against Milan, Alonso’s penalty rebound sparked a dramatic comeback, leading to Liverpool’s triumph in the penalty shootout.
His influence extended to the 2005-06 season, securing an FA Cup win with stunning goals, including a memorable brace from beyond the halfway line against Luton Town.
Alonso’s journey continued as he embraced new challenges, transferring to Real Madrid in 2009. Wearing the number 14 jersey, he played a key role in the club’s success, contributing to a club-record 96 points in La Liga.
His versatility and leadership earned him honors, including being part of Marca’s La Liga team of the season. A change in scenery led him to Bayern Munich in 2014, where Alonso’s class shone once again.
Breaking records for completed passes, scoring crucial goals, and winning titles. His retirement in 2017 marked the end of a great career, making him one of the best to wear the legendary number 14 jersey, and among the best number 14 players in history.
6. Javier Chicharito (Real Madrid, Manchester United)
Javier Chicharito Hernándezone is one of the best-known players associated with the iconic number 14 in football history., journeyed from Mexico to Manchester United.
Manchester United’s discovery of Hernández in 2009 turned into a stealthy operation, securing the young talent before his World Cup exploits.
In his debut season (2010-11), Chicharito announced his scoring instincts, contributing crucial goals in the Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. His knack for Important goals continued into the following season (2011-12), despite a brief setback due to injury.
Hernández’s memorable moments included a hat-trick against Aston Villa and fantastic goals against Chelsea, contributing significantly to United’s success.
The striker’s great performances earned him a contract extension, tying him to Manchester United until 2016. The 2012-13 season marked Hernández’s resilience, opening with impactful performances and key goals, including a special brace against Braga in the Champions League.
Despite managerial changes, Chicharito remained a reliable scorer, finishing the season with a bag of goals, notably in Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell match.
However, playing time dwindled under new management in the 2013-14 season, prompting a loan move to Real Madrid.
In Spain, Hernández, who still wore the legend number 14 jersey, made a significant impact. His goals, including a stunning long-range strike against Deportivo de La Coruña, endeared him to the Real Madrid faithful.
An important winning goal in the Champions League quarter-finals solidified his place in the team’s legend. Returning to Manchester United after his loan spell, Hernández eventually departed in 2015.
7. Henderson (Liverpool)
Jordan Henderson is one of the most famous soccer players to wear number 14 players in football history. The midfielder, transferred to Liverpool in 2011 for a fee between £16 and £20 million, embarked on a career marked by highs, lows, and numerous accolades.
Henderson’s early days at Liverpool were met with mixed reactions, but he silenced critics, scoring his debut goal in 2011 against Bolton Wanderers.
The 2011-12 season witnessed his resilience, contributing two goals from 48 appearances. Despite transfer speculations in 2012, Henderson stayed put and marked his European presence with an important goal against Udinese.
The 2013-14 season established Henderson as a Liverpool regular, playing a key role in 40 matches and scoring five goals. His 150th appearance for the club in 2013 underlined his growing influence.
However, a red card in 2014 and a subsequent ban proved costly for Liverpool’s title aspirations. Becoming Liverpool’s vice-captain in 2014, Henderson’s leadership skills shone.
He secured a five-year contract extension in 2015 and, after Steven Gerrard’s departure, assumed the role of club captain.
Regardless of injuries, Henderson’s resilience led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2019 and the FIFA Club World Cup.
The 2019-20 season saw Henderson instrumental in Liverpool’s historic Premier League title win, earning him the FWA Footballer of the Year.
His contributions extended into the 2021 season, where he signed a new long-term contract and led Liverpool to FA Cup success in 2022. As Henderson bids farewell to Liverpool in 2023 after 12 years, he leaves behind a legacy of triumphs and silverware.
8. Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Casemiroa is a true legend in the Legend Number 14 jersey. His journey with Real Madrid began in 2013 when he was loaned to Real Madrid’s B-team in Segunda División.
The midfielder made his presence felt, earning a permanent move with a fee of R$18.738 million. This marked the inception of Casemiro’s ongoing connection with the iconic number 14.
A brief loan spell at Porto in 2014 showed his prowess, with notable contributions in both domestic and UEFA Champions League fixtures. In 2015, Real Madrid activated Casemiro’s buyback clause.
Under Zinedine Zidane, Casemiro transformed from a reserve player to an indispensable first-choice, playing a key role in Real Madrid’s 11th Champions League triumph in 2016.
Casemiro’s influence soared in the following seasons, particularly in the 2016-17 La Liga campaign, where he scored crucial goals, helping secure the league title.
His thunderous long-range strike in the Champions League final against Juventus underlined his ability to deliver on the grandest stages.
The Brazilian continued to flourish, making significant contributions to Real Madrid’s consecutive Champions League victories in 2017–18 and 2021–22. In 2021, Casemiro’s commitment to the club was affirmed with a contract extension until June 2025.
The height of his Real Madrid journey came in the 2022 Super Cup when he was named Man of the Match as Real Madrid clinched their 14th Champions League title.
9. Jonas Hector (FC Köln)
I wouldn’t go on without mentioning Jonas Hector, he was a superb player for Köln. Beginning his football journey with SV Auersmacher, Hector made the move to 1. FC Köln in 2010, marking the initiation of his professional career.
Under the guidance of coach Holger Stanislawski, Hector climbed the ranks, earning his league debut in the 2012–13 season and establishing himself as a key player for Köln.
The turning point came in the 2013–14 season when Hector played an important role in Köln’s second-division championship, securing promotion to the Bundesliga.
His consistency and all-around contributions earned him recognition, capped by his first professional goal in a resounding 4–0 victory over 1. FC Union Berlin on November 4, 2013.
Hector’s Bundesliga debut in the following season showed his evolving prowess, marked by his inaugural Bundesliga goal against Eintracht Frankfurt on October 4, 2014.
He was Köln’s standout player during the 2014–15 season with the club’s official website naming him “Player of the Season.”
Hector’s reliability and leadership shone through as he captained Köln for the first time in a 1–1 draw with Hamburger SV on February 7, 2016.
Amid interest from football giants like Liverpool and Chelsea, Hector chose loyalty, signing a new contract until 2021 on August 14, 2016.
Despite Köln’s relegation in the 2017–18 season, Hector’s commitment endured, and he was honored with the Bundesliga Goal of the Year award for his beautiful chip against Wolfsburg. On May 27, 2023, Hector bid farewell to his professional career, concluding a remarkable journey with FC Köln.
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10. William Carvalho (Real Betis)
While the number 14 may carry legends from other clubs, William Carvalho’s narrative with Real Betis Includes a unique verse, blending the renowned number with his indomitable spirit on the Spanish turf.
William Carvalho, the Portuguese midfielder, embraced this iconic number upon his move to Real Betis. In July 2018, Carvalho penned a five-year deal with the Spanish club, joining the Verdiblancos for a fee of €16 million.
Carvalho’s La Liga debut for Real Betis in August 2018 was met with mixed fortunes, as they faced a 0–3 home loss against Levante UD.
However, a notable setback occurred in September 2019 when Carvalho was sent off in the 25th minute during a home draw with Getafe CF.
Soon after, a spinal disc herniation sidelined him until February, limiting his appearances to just 13 games that season. Regardless of this setback, Carvalho’s resilience shone through.
I was one of his best in September 2020 when Carvalho notched his first goal for Real Betis in a 2–0 victory over Real Valladolid.
His impact resonated further as he added another goal in a closely contested 3–2 loss to Real Madrid, displaying his ability to contribute offensively from the midfield.
Kenneth is a an avid soccer follower, fan and writer. He is a consistent follower of the sport and is a fan of Chelsea FC.