To Celebrate the launch of Nike's 'The Switch' which stars Cristiano Ronaldo, GiveMeSport takes a look at football's most iconic number sevens.
In football, certain numbers are synonymous with greatness. The print of one integer can inspire a player onto greatness or weigh heavy on their back with its burden-bringing legacy.
The number seven proves one such example. Manchester United in particular have a rich history of handing the jersey to its finest stars with players such as Cristiano Ronaldo donning it proudly.
Even the Portuguese’s nickname ‘CR7’ sports the number to which he has augmented the fame.
However, the Real Madrid star isn’t alone. In fact, many of the beautiful game’s greatest have gained similar stardom from the number in their illustrious careers.
In light of this, here are seven of football’s most iconic number sevens.
You simply cannot compile a list of number sevens without this man. Ronaldo has accumulated an unprecedented 487 career goals for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid respectively.
Not only did the 30-year-old do the number seven proud at Old Trafford, but he slipped into Raul’s old jersey at the Santiago Bernabeu with seeming ease. In fact, it only took six years for CR7 to surpass his predecessor’s record as Real’s all time top scorer.
Ronaldo is simply a legend of the sport and with three Ballon d’Ors in his trophy cabinet, he’ll go down as one of the greatest.
Widely considered as the ‘greatest dribbler of all time’, Garrincha took Brazilian and world football by storm in the 1950’s and 60’s. Plying his trade at the then imperious Botafogo, the winger sported the number seven shirt for 12 years.
Few players have taken a World Cup by storm to the extent of ‘Little Bird’. With Pele ruled out by injury, Garrincha inspired Brazil to victory in 1962 via a string of electric performances that saw him garner the Golden Ball.
A prolific goal scorer, far from it, but few have played the game with such bravado and class as Garrincha.
Many would consider Best to be the original number seven at Manchester United and arguably the finest. The Northen Irishman had a touch of genius that was cruelly constrained by off-the-pitch troubles.
Instrumental in United’s 1968 European Cup victory, Best is forever presented in bronze at Old Trafford alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law.
The mercurial winger could weave his way through any defence and accumulated 181 goals at the Theatre of Dreams. Belfast’s airport even brandishes his name and has done since his 2005 death - a nod to how cherished he is by the Northern Irish public.
Before Ronaldo arrived in the Spanish capital, Raul proved the man saturating La Liga with goals. Until recently, the prolific forward was both Real Madrid and Spain’s all time top scorer.
Famed for his loyalty to Los Blancos and his rise from the youth system, the 38-year-old is the only player to win La Liga’s player of the season award five times.
He may have missed out on Spain’s golden era, but La Roja haven’t had such a natural finisher since his retirement.
Yet another Manchester United legend who wore the famous number seven shirt - there’s quite a list.
Beckham made the jersey his own during his latter years at Old Trafford where he eventually attracted the interest of Real Madrid. Football has propelled the ex-England captain to dizzying heights of fame and he remains influential today.
Given that his legendary free-kick against Greece was scored with a seven on his back, leaving Golden Balls off the list would be criminal.
While most number sevens strut their stuff on the flanks, Shevchenko proves a rare exception. It’s unfortunate that most supporters remember him for his Chelsea flop, when in fact he was one of the finest strikers of his generation.
Rising to fame with a prolific record in Ukraine, the forward cemented his legendary status at the San Siro with AC Milan. Shevchenko spearheaded their charge to Champions League glory in 2003 and sealed the Ballon d’Or the following year.
Few strikers had such a ruthless streak in front of goal.
The Marseille-born maverick of Manchester United wields an unrelenting legacy in English football. King Eric brought a French flair to English shores that endures along with his famous number seven jersey.
Cantona may have retired at the age of just 30 and wielded a fair share of controversial moments, but it’s hard to look past his incredible Red Devils tenure. Galvanising United to four Premier League titles, he proved the final piece in the puzzle for Sir Alex Ferguson’s silverware machine.