• davidrstaylor

Sheffield United to retire a host of shirt numbers

The move is in recognition of Jude Bellingham and some of Bramall Lane's biggest legends

Photography by Mark Hawksworth

Not a statement from Sheffield United Football Club:

In the light of Birmingham City Football Club very reasonably retiring the number 22 shirt in recognition of Jude Bellingham’s long, illustrious career with the club, we at Sheffield United have decided to retrospectively retire a number of shirts, in honour of some of the legends that have graced the hallowed Bramall Lane turf. The shirts and players are as follows:

22. Jude Bellingham

Jude has been with Birmingham City since the age of seven, and played his first game for the senior team at the age of just 16 years and 38 days. His move to Dortmund makes him the world's most expensive 17 year old, and comes at a vital time for his development into a world-class footballer. He also seems like a genuinely nice person. In recognition of his achievements, Sheffield United are retiring the number 22 shirt with immediate effect (Lys Mousset will wear the number 27 shirt for our final game of the season), and we suggest other clubs across the league pyramid do the same.

10. Pelé

One of the greatest to play the game, Edson Arantes do Nascimento - or Pelé to his adoring public - is the only player to win three World Cups, and is said to have scored more than 1,000 goals in his professional career. Pelé famously said “Without Sheffield FC, there wouldn’t be a me”. He came to Bramall Lane once a few years ago to watch Sheffield FC against Inter Milan and held up a United shirt, so that’s good enough for us. Number 10 is history.

1. Steve Simonsen

A steady pair of hands as the club began its rise back to the Premier League via relegation to League One, Steve was a solid 'keeper in our run to the 2012 Play Off Final. Unfortunately, the team lost to Huddersfield on penalties, but Steve would later go on to use his high kicking skills to good effect by signing professional terms for a top-division Danish Rugby League side.

4. Juan Sebastián Verón

The complete midfielder, Juan Sebastián Verón was a mainstay of the Argentina national team for well over a decade, winning trophies at five different clubs, including the Copa Libertadores and the Premier League. Despite the rumours, Verón never actually played for Sheffield United, but spent most of his time at similar clubs, such as Manchester United, Boca Juniors and Lazio. He’s also Pedro Verde’s nephew and is a fan of the Blades. He’s one of our own.

14. Ravel Morrison

Ravel hasn't featured much for the Blades, but his much-vaunted skills in training transferred to the competitive pitch when he starred in a close 1-0 home loss to the financially steady and outwardly ambitious Sunderland. He technically hasn’t left the club yet, but we feel like we can nip this one in the bud.

19. Jay McEveley

The Scouse Cannavaro played 70 times for the Blades, scoring once and captaining the side during the successful 2015/16 season. However, he is, of course, mainly known among United fans for pulling off the most famous save in the club’s history, against table-topping Shrewsbury Town. A rock at the back with a firm place in our hearts.

21. John-Joe O’Toole

John-Joe’s time at the Blades might have been short (nine appearances), but his impact has been felt keenly in the decade since. Making his début in a 2-1 drubbing of Coventry City, he scored his first and only goal in a heated local derby against our main rivals Barnsley. A training-ground injury in the final week of the season meant he was unable to play in the 2009 Play-Off final. We’re all left wondering what might have been…

36. Flea

The talented Australia-born California rocker is well-known for being a fan of the Blades, as well as for his second career as bassist for the Red Hot Chill Peppers. His shirt number reflects the number of albums his band has released (including compilations), and we hope by including him here that he’ll do a Mick Foley and visit us for the positive PR / love of the game.

If any fans would like to suggest further shirt number retirees, please contact @DEM_BLADES.

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