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21: Who are the most successful players to have worn this shirt?

21: Who are the most successful players to have worn this shirt?

David Silva ended his decade long association with Manchester City this summer, with the popular Spaniard posting an emotional farewell on social media following a nine-minute cameo against Real Madrid in the Champions League. The former Valencia man is regarded as one of the club’s greatest ever players, and he now leaves some extremely big boots to fill.

Silva has worn the number 21 throughout his ten-year stint at the Etihad, and there is likely to be plenty of pressure on whoever is given the honour of pulling on his famous jersey next season. We take a look at three other players who have enjoyed a strong affinity with this number.

Phillip Lahm – Bayern Munich

Although he wore 29 during his debut season in Bavaria, Phillip Lahm is still strongly associated with the number 21 by the majority of Bundesliga fans. The defender played over 500 times in Bayern colours, helping his side to eight titles in the process. He also remains a German record-holder for the most Champions League appearances, clocking up 120 in total. During the 2012-13 campaign, he became the first full-back to claim 11 assists in a single season, and his ability to get to the byline routinely caused problems for the opposition.

Lahm announced his retirement in 2017, claiming that he can no longer maintain his high standards, and although he rejected the chance to join the Bayern backroom staff, he remains a club legend.

Nemanja Matić

Nemanja Matić enjoyed three successful seasons at Chelsea whilst sporting the number 21. With the Blues having shelled out £21 million for the midfielder, he was expected to hit the ground running, and he was duly named man of the match on his Premier League debut as he helped the West London side to a 1-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Manchester City.

He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2015, alongside teammate Eden Hazard, and although he scored just four times in 121 appearances for the club, his craft and muscle in the middle of the park helped his side carve out some very important victories at Stamford Bridge.

Matić is now plying his trade for Manchester United, and has recently worked his way back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans. However, he was left on the bench for the club’s Europa League defeat to Sevilla in mid-August. The La Liga outfit ran out 2-1 winners and are now the 6/5 outsiders in the outright UEFA Europa League betting market. Matić has plenty of experience in this competition and his presence is likely to come in handy next season as the Red Devils look to clinch their first piece of European silverware since 2017.

Andrea Pirlo

Arguably one of the greatest exponents of the deep-lying playmaker role, Andrea Pirlo wore the number 21 throughout the majority of his distinguished and decorated career. The stylish midfielder won six Serie A titles, four with Juventus, and two with AC Milan. He also added two Champions League winner’s medals to his impressive haul, whilst being named Italian Football of the Year for three consecutive seasons between 2012 and 2014.

He enjoyed tremendous success on the International stage, helping the Azzurri to World Cup success in 2016. He was named as man of the match during his country’s penalty shootout success in the final against France, one of three MOTM awards that he accumulated during the course of the tournament. In August 2020, the 41-year old was named as Juventus head coach, taking over from Maurizio Sarri.

Landon Donovan, Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane and Paolo Dybala are just a few of the players who have also worn 21 at various points throughout their career. This squad number has brought tremendous success to the careers of David Silva, Phillip Lahm, Nemanja Matić and Andrea Pirlo, and many other players will surely excel whilst wearing this double-figure digit over the next couple of seasons.

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21: Who are the most successful players to have worn this shirt?