Saturday, October 21, 2017

From Robbie Fowler to Roberto Firmino: Will Brazilian End the Curse of Liverpool’s No.9 Shirt?

Milos Markovic in Editorial, English Premier League 23 Jun 2017

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Firmino will wear a No.9 shirt at LFC next season / Image via thisisanfield.com

Thursday was a big day for all Liverpool supporters.

It was a day of mixed feelings for those who have already purchased the official 2017/18 jersey with Roberto Firmino’s name and No.11 on the back, though. As a gesture of good will, great comradeship and a genuine team spirit that he boasts, Liverpool forward generously decided to give up the number he wore since joining Reds in 2015 and move to the No.9 shirt in order to accommodate the Liverpool’s new arrival – Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian’s preference was No.11, the number he wore at AS Roma and the number he still wears for the Egyptian national team. Salah himself expressed gratitude to his new teammate for letting him take his favourite number and this gesture truly illustrates the good will and great spirit that lives among the Liverpool ranks.

Liverpool have yesterday confirmed Mohamed Salah as their new player as Jurgen Klopp start building a more competitive squad for next season. The Red are currently standing at 12/1 betting odds to be crowned Premier League champions next term.

 

#AnnouncedSalah 🔴

A post shared by Liverpool Football Club (@liverpoolfc) on

Roberto Firmino has offered supporters the opportunity to have their No.11 jerseys signed by the Brazilian in another move that proves Liverpool really remains one of the most caring club towards its vast base of supporters.

Moving in to his new number, Roberto Firmino probably did not give too much thought of the significance of Liverpool’s No.9. A detailed look at the history of this number at Anfield might be enough to have Firmino regret his decision, however, as No.9 appears to have caught a curse of sorts during the last six years.

Will Firmino break the No.9 curse?

From the Premier League’s point of view – as a competition renamed and established in the current format back in 1992 – Robbie Fowler was the first Liverpool striker to don the No.9 shirt.

The Anfield God did it with pride and success, establishing himself as a true legend of the club during his two spells as a Reds player. The total of 128 Premier League goals are more than enough to prove No.9 suited him well as the former English international left a huge boots to be filled.

Many have tried to match his success in a shirt with that famed No.9 on their back. Tried and failed. Nicolas Anelka, El-Hadji Diouf and Djibril Cisse have all had mixed success with it, but it was not until the Spanish striker Fernando Torres put it on that No.9 once again sparked into life.

Having played 102 Premier League matches for the club, Torres netted on 65 occasions in the top flight, adding another 16 across all other competition during his four-year stay at Anfield.

And once the fans burned his shirt in protest over his Chelsea move back in 2011 it’s as if they burned the strength and power of the famous number.

Four men have worn the No.9 shirt ever since and, unfortunately, none of those men will have anything to boast with.

Andy Carroll

The £35 million signing from Newcastle United struggled with both fitness and the ability to slot into the Liverpool’s style. Carrol donned the No.9 shirt 44 times in the Premier League and decorated it with 6 goals in the competition, 11 in total for the Reds before he was shipped off to West Ham.

The £35 million signing from Newcastle United struggled with both fitness and the ability to slot into the Liverpool’s style. Carrol donned the No.9 shirt 44 times in the Premier League and decorated it with 6 goals in the competition, 11 in total for the Reds before he was shipped off to West Ham.

Iago Aspas

The Spaniard was somewhat unfortunate to have had Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge at their best to compete with for a place in the starting line-up, leaving the No.9 to rot on the bench. Looking completely unsuited for the English game, the Spanish striker made no impact as he failed to score a single goal in the Premier League and only one during his 15 games for the club.

Rickie Lambert

Having been released from his childhood club as a young boy, Rickie Lambert saw his dream come true in 2014 as he rejoined Liverpool. A fans’ favourite never really managed to make most of his dream however and ended up wearing the famous No.9 shirt during 25 Premier League appearances. He scored 2 goals in the English top tier, and another one to make it 3 goals in 36 games for the Reds.

Christian Benteke

Much to the likeness with Andy Carrol, the towering Belgian never really fitted into the Liverpool side. The similarities begin with a transfer fee which, in the case of Christian Brenteke, stood at whopping £32.5 million. Jurgen Klopp struggled to fit him into his fluent side as the Belgian striker failed to adapt his style to fit in at Anfield and ended up getting sold to Crystal Palace after 29 Premier League appearances and nine goals.

Once famous and feared, Liverpool’s No.9 has lost its significance.

During six-and-a-half years since Torres’ departure, four different players managed to score mere 17 goals in 112 Premier League appearances wearing the cursed number on their back and it is now up to Roberto Firmino to break the curse.

Can he do it?

  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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