Welcome to the first of a new series, where we look at a notable player and the squad numbers he wore during his career. First up is legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
His first professional club was Cruzeiro, before joining PSV Eindhoven. This before the Dutch league adopted squad numbers, though 9 was the he wore there. Following a bright start, he moved to Spain in 1996:
Squad numbers were introduced in La Liga for 1995-96 and the first player to carry 9 for Barcelona under the new system was Bosnian striker Meho Kodro.
It proved to be Johan Cruyff’s last season in charge and Kodro departed in the summer of 1996, with Ronaldo coming in. He was to form a fruitful partnership with Hristo Stoichkov, who returned to the club after a season with Parma – as he took the number 8 which was associated with him, Guillermo Amor had to switch to 18.
Though Ronaldo only spent one season with Barça, it was a memorable one, as he scored 47 goals in 49 goals. A world-record transfer beckoned.
Inter Milan (1997-2002)
While Ronaldo would eventually force Ivan Zamorano to wear 1+8, he didn’t immediately take 9 at Inter. For his first season there, he had 10 on his back with the Chilean continuing in 9.
However, in 1998, Roberto Baggio joined Inter from Bologna and, though he had previously worn 18 at rivals AC Milan, here he looked for 10. That caused the chain-reaction which saw Ronaldo move to 9 and Zamorano to 18, as well as the addition symbol so that he still felt like a 9.
I thought that Nike also had a hand in the change in numbers at Inter? Umbro didn't care about him wearing 10, but when Nike came in, they wanted to strengthen the R9 brand?
— Jim Hearson (@JimHearson) November 2, 2018
Injuries hampered Ronaldo at Inter, but when he was fit he was on form, scoring 59 goals in 99 games before returning to Spain in the summer of 2002.
Real Madrid (2002-2007)
Once again, Ronaldo joined a club where there was an incumbent number 9, in this case Fernando Morientes.
For 2003-04, Morientes joined Monaco on loan, allowing Ronaldo to take 9 and when the Spaniard returned for 2004-05, he took the number 8 which had been vacated by defender Borja Fernandez, who moved to 4.
After three good seasons, injuries returned to haunt Ronaldo and he signed for AC Milan in the winter transfer window of 2006-07, departing with a record of 104 goals in 177 games.
AC Milan (2007-08)
This time, Filippo Inzaghi was the man in possession of number 9 at a club Ronaldo joined. The Brazilian became the first to play for both the Milan clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The numbers 12 and 14 were available but the highest empty number that added up to nine was 45 and so instead he chose 99, the first time he had a number higher than 11 as a squad number.
Unfortunately, he would only play 20 matches in his season and a half back at the San Siro, though to be fair he was still just short of a 0.5 ratio, scoring nine times.
Later, the Milan 99 would be worn by Antonio Cassano while it’s now held by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
While recovering from knee surgery, Ronaldo trained with Flamengo but, though they were open to him signing, instead he opted to join Corinthians and he spent the last three years of his career back in the familiar 9. He scored 35 goals in 69 appearances.