Emiliano Viviano is a philistine

This is Emiliano Viviano. Arsenal fans may remember him, last year he spent what the excellent Arseblog referred to as a “gap year” on loan with the club from Palermo. He was their number-three goalkeeper, behind Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski, and didn’t see a minute of competitive game-time.


This year, while Palermo retain his registration, he is on loan with Sampdoria (incidentally, it’s his third season in a row to go on loan, having been with Fiorentina in 2012-13). He is Samp’s number 2.


No, not necessarily the second-choice goalkeeper. He is actually their number 2.


In the 1978 World Cup final, both goalkeepers – Argentina’s Ubaldo Fillol (5) and the Netherlands’ Jan Jongbloed (8) – wore single-digit numbers which weren’t 1, but both at least had the excuse of being part of squads which had their numbering based on alphabetical order (Holland weren’t alphabetical in ’78 but were in ’74, and a lot of players kept the same numbers). In the early days of the World Cup, some countries numbered their squads in blocks, e.g. goalkeepers 1-3, defenders 4-11, midfielders 12-19 and strikers 20-22. We find this quirky so it gets a pass.

More recent instances of this most heinous of crimes are Jens Lehman wearing 9 for Germany, but he’s Mad Jens so it’s half-expected. After returning to Parma in the mid-2000s, Luca Bucci wore 7 and then 5, while in 1998 Uwe Gospodarek was Kaiserslautern’s number 2.

Update: We asked SampNews24 on Facebook if they had any idea why Viviano chose 2 and they replied: “He doesn’t like the high numbers, and [Gianluca] Sansone has the 12, so the only one free was the 2”

8 thoughts on “Emiliano Viviano is a philistine

  1. Fascinating stuff – didn’t know/had forgotten half of it! I would like to know the reasoning behind Viviano taking/being given #2. Perhaps because he saw the shirt and thought it resembled an outfield version?


    • Not at all, Greg – this post was just about goalkeepers wearing single digits other than 1. While ideally I’d prefer if stupidly high numbers were ignored in the hope that they’d go away, they are probably something which will have to be visited in the future.


  2. I remember Mark Simpson wearing number 2 in his final seasons at DC United, which he spent as the backup GK. And there’s Joe Cannon, whom the MLS strangely allowed to use number zero for the San Jose Earthquakes some ten years ago,


  3. I remember two occasions in the greek league, during the 90’s. The first is during the 97-98 campaign, were the ‘keeper of Athinaikos wore #2 jersey (his name was Yiannis Triantafyllidis, but I couldn’t find a photo. Even the youtube clips are realy bad to see that clearly). The second, was the ossie keeper Ante Covic, played for the side of Kavala (then moved to PAOK Thessaloniki). He wore #3 jersey.


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