Number 3 in football typically refers to the jersey number worn by a player, primarily a defender, in various formations. It signifies the player’s position on the field and is often associated with the left or right full-back.
However, professional soccer players wearing the number 3 jersey are recognized for their defensive prowess. Popular figures include Paolo Maldini, who is renowned for his solid tackling and strategic play.
Professional Soccer Players With The Number 3 Jersey
- Paolo Maldini
- Roberto Carlos
- Denis Irwin
- Giorgio Chiellini
- Patrick Evra
- Ashley Cole
- Gerard Pique
- Thiago Silva
- Leighton Baines
1. Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
Paolo Maldini played his entire club career with the AC Milan senior team. Starting at 16, he secured a spot in the starting eleven at 17, wearing the iconic number 3 shirt.
Maldini’s career boasted numerous successes, including seven Serie A titles and five Champions League trophies. Under managers like Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, he formed a formidable defensive quartet.
Notably, Maldini became the first defender to win World Soccer magazine’s World Player of the Year Award in 1994. His leadership skills were noticeable when he assumed the captaincy after Franco Baresi’s retirement.
Maldini’s career highlight came in 2007 when, at 38, he captained Milan to a Champions League triumph, making him the oldest captain to lift the trophy. He retired in 2009 after an illustrious career, with Milan retiring his iconic number 3 shirt.
2. Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahce, Delhi Dynamos FC)
Roberto Carlos, a legendary footballer, was Instrumental for Real Madrid from 1996 to 2007. As a left-back, he wore the iconic number 3 shirt, and he contributed to four La Liga titles and featured in three UEFA Champions League finals.
Known for his attacking prowess, he scored memorable goals, including a famous bending volley. Carlos later joined Fenerbahçe in 2007, experiencing success but missing out on the league title.
After a brief stint at Corinthians in Brazil, he moved to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, eventually retiring in 2012. His career faced challenges, including instances of racism in Russia. However, Carlos concluded his playing journey as player-manager for Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League.
3. Denis Irwin (Manchester United)
Denis Irwin was loyal to Manchester United for 12 years, playing an important part in their success. Renowned for his versatility, he impressed in both full-back positions.
During his tenure, he showed prowess in free kicks and penalties, netting 22 league goals. Memorable moments include a double against Oldham Athletic in 1991 and a crucial late winner against Southampton in 1995.
Irwin’s impact extended beyond scoring, contributing to seven Premier League titles, two FA Cup victories, and triumphs in the League Cup, UEFA Champions League, and European Cup Winners’ Cup. His last game in 2002 against Charlton Athletic saw him wear the captain’s armband as a fitting farewell.
4. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus FC)
Giorgio Chiellini, a prominent player for Juventus FC, joined in 2005. During their time In Serie B, he was an Integral part, helping Juventus’s promotion.
He’s always shifting between left-back and center-back role in Juventus’s defensive line. His partnership with defenders like Bonucci and Barzagli, especially under manager Antonio Conte, earned them the nickname BBC.
Chiellini contributed significantly to multiple Serie A victories and became Juventus captain in 2018. Despite injuries, he continued to be a key figure, lifting titles and extending his contract until 2023. In 2022, after losing the Coppa Italia Final, he announced his departure from Juventus at the season’s end.
5. Pepe (Real Madrid, FC Porto)
Pepe started his career with Real Madrid in 2007 where he became one of the famous players to wear the number 3 jersey. He is known for his toughness, and he faced challenges, like a ten-match ban in 2009.
Despite injuries, he was still an important player, transitioning to a defensive midfielder. His stint with Real Madrid included successes like La Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League win in 2014.
Pepe then joined Beşiktaş in 2017. He later returned to Porto in 2019, where, at 40, he set records as the oldest outfield player and oldest goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League.
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6. Patrick Evra (Manchester United)
Patrick Evra became a Manchester United player in January 2006, preferring them over other clubs. Initially, he faced challenges adapting to English football but improved over time. In the 2006-07 season, Evra scored his first Champions League goal.
The next season, he became the first-choice left-back as United secured the Premier League title. Evra continued to contribute in the 2008-09 season, winning the Club World Cup.
Despite a suspension, he played a crucial role in United’s success during the 2008-09 season. In the 2009-10 season, Evra captained the team and won the League Cup.
The following season, he faced scrutiny related to the 2010 World Cup but signed a contract extension. In the 2011-12 season, Evra helped United win the Community Shield and spoke out against racial abuse.
He remained a consistent player, scoring goals and extending his contract until 2015. Throughout his career at United, Evra was Instrumental in various successes, and he contributed defensively and offensively.
7. Ashley Cole (Arsenal Fc, Chelsea Fc, AS Roma, Los Angeles Galaxy)
Ashley Cole gained recognition as one of the best in his generation, and one of the most famous players to wear the number 3 jersey.
He kicked off his career at Arsenal, where he contributed significantly to their success with two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. His notable stint with the “Invincibles” in the 2003–04 season, going undefeated, remains a highlight.
In 2006, Cole moved to Chelsea, securing more honors, including a Premier League title in 2009–10, four FA Cups, and a UEFA Champions League trophy. His departure from Chelsea in 2014 marked the end of a remarkable era.
Cole holds a record with seven FA Cup wins, unmatched by any other player, and is one of two to achieve the Double with two clubs, alongside Nicolas Anelka.
8. Gerard Pique ( FC Barcelona, Spain)
Gerard Piqué has been fantastic for Barcelona, wearing the number 3 jersey. He began his football career at Barcelona’s La Masia academy, and he got his first professional contract with Manchester United in 2004.
His return to Barcelona in 2008 marked a period of remarkable success, contributing to trebles in 2008–09 and 2014–15. Over 616 matches, Piqué clinched 31 major club titles, including nine La Liga trophies and three UEFA Champions League titles.
On the international level, he has represented Spain 102 times. However, Piqué bid farewell to the national team after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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9. Thiago Silva (Brazil Nationa Football Team)
Thiago Silva has been a key player in Brazil’s national football team, though he had his early challenges. Silva had a great performance against Portugal in 2008, a disappointment in the 2010 World Cup, and redemption at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
His leadership was tested in the 2014 World Cup; he faced criticism in a penalty shootout but rebounded with a goal. Unfortunately, his suspension in the semi-final contributed to Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany.
Silva continued to represent Brazil in subsequent tournaments, scoring in the 2018 World Cup and winning the 2019 Copa América.
In the 2022 World Cup, he played a significant role but experienced a quarter-final exit. Silva has recorded his 100th appearance and he’s Brazil’s most-capped center-back.
10. Leighton Baines (Everton)
Leighton Baines, a former Everton football player, joined the team in July 2007 for £5 million. In his early seasons, he faced competition but in the 2010–11 season, he won the award for Player of the Season.
Baines also led Europe’s top leagues in creating chances in 2012–13. Despite bids from Manchester United in 2013, Everton retained him, signing a contract extension in 2014.
He also Impressed in the 2013–14 season, leading in goals and assists from a defender. In 2017, he became Everton’s leading penalty scorer. However, Baines continued his contributions, scoring crucial goals, including one in the UEFA Europa League.
In the 2019–20 season, Everton offered him a one-year contract, but he chose to retire, concluding an impressive career marked by consistency and valuable contributions.
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