In 2008, Ronaldinho surprised the football world by choosing to wear the number 80 shirt at AC Milan after joining the Italian club from Barcelona. The Brazil legend was a marketing machine in those days, with his “R10” brand plastered all over kids’ football boots and various other merchandise. So why did someone so synonymous with the number 10 decide to wear 80 at the San Siro?
Ronaldinho wore the number 80 shirt at AC Milan because he was born in the year 1980. He would almost certainly have taken the number 10 shirt if it was available. However, Clarence Seedorf already wore that number.
At the time, the other attack-minded numbers at Milan were occupied by Alexandre Pato (7), Gennaro Gattuso (8), Filippo Inzaghi (9), and Marco Borriello (11).
Why Clarence Seedorf kept the number 10
Plenty of players have given up shirt numbers for new superstar signings over the years. Alan Shearer, for example, offered Michael Owen the number nine shirt when the former Real Madrid man joined Newcastle United in 2005. In Ronaldinho’s case, the idea of him taking Clarence Seedorf’s number 10 was never brought up.
“In 23 years, we have never asked one of our players to give his number to another,” former Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani told the club’s official website. “If the number 10 jersey had been free, it would have been a different issue.”
Galliani added that Alexandre Pato only took the number seven shirt a year earlier because Andriy Shevchenko had already left the club. The former executive also clarified that he never even had a conversation with Seedorf about potentially changing numbers.
More on First Print Football
If you enjoyed this article, you might like to check out the full story behind Ronaldinho’s stolen Paris Saint-Germain goal. Back in 2003, the former PSG star looked set to score an incredible solo effort before a teammate sprinted in at the far post to get himself on the scoresheet instead. The internet often asks who stole the goal, so we did some digging to find out the culprit.
Fifteen years on from that moment, Ronaldinho officially retired from football after a lengthy spell out of the game. We found out the real reason why the 2002 World Cup winner quietly called time on his career.
If you’d like to read more shirt number content, you can check out why Zinedine Zidane wore the number five at Real Madrid after he joined the club from Juventus in 2001.