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”