One of the brightest full-backs in world football, the Reds star wears an unusual number – Goal takes a look at why and whether he will keep it
Ever since the introduction of squad numbers for players, certain numbers have come to be associated with certain positions and types of players.
The No. 10, for example, is usually a skilled playmaker, a creative pivot point for a team such as Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi. The No. 9 has come to mean an out-and-out centre-forward and the No. 1 is, of course, usually reserved for the goalkeeper.
The increased commercialisation of the sport has even seen individual players build brands around their squad numbers, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘CR7’ empire perhaps the best example of that phenomenon.
Wearing a number within the traditional ‘1 to 11’ is usually a sign of your status and generally speaking, the higher the number, the further you are from the first team.
There are, of course exceptions to that vague unwritten rule and one of the most notable examples in the Premier League nowadays is Trent Alexander-Arnold. The full-back has worn No. 66 for Liverpool ever since breaking into the first team in 2016-17 and, despite becoming the first-choice right-back, he has kept the number.
Why does Trent Alexander-Arnold wear No. 66 for Liverpool?
There is no apparent personal meaning attached to the No. 66 for Alexander Arnold and the reason he continues to wear it is because he has never been too bothered about getting it changed.
According to Liverpool’s kit management coordinator, Lee Radcliffe, the England international is too “laidback” to concern himself with getting a lower squad number.
“When we get any young lads that come down from the academy, we always deliberately try to give them a high-ish number,” Radcliffe explained to Liverpool’s official website in 2020.
“We don’t like to give them a low number in case they sort of think they’ve made it straight away, if you know what I mean.
“You pick it out because it’s a free number and it’s around that sort of number you think, ‘We’ll give that out because he’s only just come down’.
“When you see him now lifting trophies and celebrating with 66 on the back, it’s a weird feeling and I can’t really describe it. It’s weird to see such a high number and for someone to be happy with it!
“Someone like Trent has just been happy to be around the first team and obviously doesn’t realise how good he is. He doesn’t really ask for anything, to be honest.
“I think he’s that laidback that he’s obviously been given the number and thought, ‘Yeah, that’ll do me. I’ll keep that’, and not realised how iconic it’s become over the years.”
The unusual number has proven quite popular among Liverpool fans when purchasing replica jerseys, thanks, of course, to Alexander-Arnold’s success as a local lad coming through the ranks.
And Radcliffe believes that it has become “iconic”, with the full-back playing a crucial role in Liverpool’s recent Champions League and Premier League triumphs.
“I think it’s a number quite close to a lot of fans’ hearts now, as well as staff, because it’s a local lad that’s come through,” he explained.
“The amount of kids you see walking around in a ’66’, it’s weird that it’s actually stuck. It was one of them that you give out and expect a year later that it’ll get passed on to someone else.”
Does Trent Alexander-Arnold wear No. 66 for England?
No. Alexander-Arnold wears the No. 2 when playing for England. The No. 2 is traditionally worn by the right-back in any given team.
Always an honour 🦁 pic.twitter.com/HjHo9WO0V2
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) October 11, 2020
While high squad numbers are more of a phenomenon at clubs, where squads may have over 30 or 40 players (including reserve and youth team players), they don’t generally exist in international football.
For most international tournaments, the requirement for teams is to have a squad of 23 players, numbered from one to 23.
Will Trent Alexander-Arnold keep the No. 66 jersey?
Responding to a fan’s question on Twitter in 2020, Alexander-Arnold indicated that he wasn’t sure if he would keep the No. 66 jersey, so his number could well change in the future.
He appeared to be somewhat attached to the number in the early days of his breakthrough at Anfield, signing social posts with ‘#66’, but that is no longer a common feature in his online activity.
While the No. 2 jersey became available on Nathaniel Clyne’s departure from Liverpool in 2020, it is possible, like Radcliffe says, that Alexander-Arnold will remain attached to 66 given how iconic it has become.
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) February 10, 2020
Footballers can be a superstitious bunch and maybe he’ll have arrived at the conclusion that the number is a lucky charm of sorts, and that changing it may lead to a downturn in fortunes.
Indeed, it is not unheard of for players to associate certain numbers with their performances.
Former Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia, for example, decided to change from No. 7 – a number which weighs heavily at Old Trafford due to historical wearers – to No. 25 because he had “good fortune” in that shirt.
“There is no negative reason as to why I changed it,” Valencia told United Review in 2013.
“I don’t want people to think that I wasn’t doing my job for the team because of any added pressure of wearing the number seven shirt, it was more to do with the fact that 25 was the number I had when I first came to the club and I played well wearing that number.
“So I thought ‘why don’t I go back to 25?’ because I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”