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Tottenham Hotspur Launches ‘Legacy Numbers’ Program

Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur has announced a new initiative called Legacy Numbers, which will result in small numbers being added below the rear collar of all current and future players.

Here’s how it works: Team researchers have determined that 879 players have played for the team since its inception in 1894. Each of those players has been assigned a number, from 1 through 879, based on the chronology of when he made his team debut. Numbers for players who debuted on the same date — including the 11 players who appeared in the team’s very first game — are assigned alphabetically. In other words, if Smith and Jones both made their debuts tomorrow, becoming the 880th and 881st players in team history, Jones would get No. 880 and Smith would be No. 881, because “J” comes before “S” in the alphabet.

Beginning with tomorrow’s match against Crystal Palace, all active players will wear their legacy number in small print above their NOBs, as shown in the photo above. Here are a few more examples:

You can learn more about the program, and see the full numerical list of players, here.


Comments (38)

    Not sure why, but something feels icky about this. Almost like getting your prisoner number or something. I guess it is that it is so impersonal

    It’s interesting to me that your reaction is that it feels impersonal because my immediate reaction was the exact opposite. It feels highly personal to me for a player or descendant/family of a player to be able to know that they/their person is specifically that number player in the entire history of the club and not just one of many Nos. 1, 2, 3, etc.


    If your name on the back isn’t enough personalization, then this just database rubbish

    I work on databases for a living. I think unique identifiers, as we call them in that business, especially when they’re linear like this, are actually a kind of neat way of showing your place in the history of a franchise.

    Yes, this is me taking it personally and calling you out for calling databases rubbish. You’re wrong. Also, I think this is neat on T*ttenh*m’s part, and I say that as a Chelsea supporter.

    Seconding Dan’s response. This is an awesome idea and as a Gooner, it saddens me that Spurs came up with an awesome idea.

    As much as I hate Spurs, I think this is a really net way of giving each player a place in Spurs’ history. First time I’ve seen this in football, although it is done in English test cricket. link

    The mind boggles about the game on the Spurs website:
    “An original FA Cup tie against Vampires in 1895/96 – which had to be replayed as the pitch was marked incorrectly – however, does count for this list.” – visions of the pitch being marked out in a coffin shape rather than a rectangle!

    I couldn’t leave it there… The Vampires appeared to be a club from Norbury – just South of London. They did have a brilliant club crest of a bat – link

    Great research, Andy! I love that crest! In fact, I kind of wish I’d known about it earlier, for reasons that will become more apparent here on Saturday.

    For additional context, the old Vampires club merged with a club in Crouch End to become Crouch End Vampires F.C., a team that still play in the Southern Amateur League: link. Unfortunately, their current crest is nowhere near as good as that old one from 1895.

    I did see Crouch End Vampires on searches, but as a small amateur club a long way from Norbury, I didn’t link it…

    Crouch end is a suburb in North London whereas Norbury is a suburb in South London – both some way from Central London.

    All other football club mergers I’ve heard of have been neighbours who compete for fans so end up in a marriage of convenience (Inverness Cally Thistle, Rushden & Diamonds) – so this can’t have been a merger in that sense. There must be a story there, as it smacks of a takeover by Crouch End to take the best players as I’d doubt a single fan from Norbury would have suddenly switched to going to North London for home games!

    A fun rabbit hole to go down & rather topical for this week!

    The English men’s national team have been doing this since 2019 – they initially stitched the number under the crest, but then had to move it to the inside collar to comply with UEFA regulations.

    I suspect Vampires were an easy team to play an attacking game against, as they would be unable to deal with crosses.

    Yeah, I dont see the point of having your employee number on the jersey. If they wanted to create like, a website with bios of everyone, and numbered those by debut, sure. But on the jersey? And visible? Makes you kinda think the team literally sees them as just a number and not a person.

    Yeah, exactly. I am having a hard time seeing the downside of this idea as well. This is a neat idea.

    Wigan Rugby League have been doing this for a couple of years, there’s a heritage number below the club badge on every player’s jersey, awarded to each player on their debut with the club.

    Rather satisfyingly, the player currently wearing the #1 jersey, Jai Field, has heritage number #1111

    The English national team does legacy number

    Mouse over each player to see the current squad’s numbers


    The All Blacks do something like this, and it’s pretty cool to cement yourself in That team’s history.

    Spurs aren’t the first English football club to do this – off the top of my head Bradford City and Stockport County have done so since 2019, and there may well be others.


    It’s going look even more odd when someone is 1000 (there’s a great contract negotiating item for a players personal brand!)

    I’m really disappointed in their repeated use of the phrasing that “every player” gets a number (and in this article, the phrasing “all current and future players,” “879 players have played for the team,” etc. etc.). It’s every male player, and they need to stop pretending that that’s “every player.” It made me check the list to ensure women weren’t included…

    Spurs are actually one of the clubs that are normally somewhat good at doing that by using “men’s first team” and “women’s first team,” which is about all we can expect from English soccer.

    And yes, I wrote about Bradford City when they introduced their system (link). Cap numbers started and are very common in cricket.

    Oh, yeah, every PL club does, even if not at a high level. I hope the women’s team will be included in this project someday (I freely admit it might be harder to research women’s soccer back to the ’70s, when the women’s team dates from, than men’s soccer back to the 1890s). What blows my mind is that they had multiple chances to say “every player who has played in a competitive game for the men’s first team” and didn’t. That’s all they had to do.

    Ìf both teams are run by the same ownership/management, then yeah, they burned themselves on this one…
    And would clubs have separate sequences for each team, or combined?
    Very complex situation there…
    Lots of variables but sure they could work it out…?

    Jamie, thank you for your continued efforts in this realm. It’s really rubbed off on me – you may have noticed in my comment above I specifically referred to the England men’s national team, something I wouldn’t have done a year ago.

    Love the idea; it shows that, for all their contributions, players come and go, but the club remains. Also love the execution; I think it’s just large enough to be seen up close, without being so large as to be an eyesore.

    The use of alphabetical order irks me a little (really, because Smith’s surname is further along in the alphabet than Johnson’s, he’s considered to have debuted after him?) but I like the idea of a team keeping a permanent record of every player who has ever appeared for them.

    I also don’t like the positioning. The cut of the jersey — a seam right where the NOB would normally go, shoving everything downward — makes it even worse. The legacy number is so small that from the perspective of the fans in the stands, there’s going to be a giant empty white area above the NOB and squad number, the latter of which is the thing the fans need the most. I say put the legacy number inside the collar or below the team crest on the front, where it would have more impact and it would be clearer what it means.

    The use of alphabetical order irks me a little (really, because Smith’s surname is further along in the alphabet than Johnson’s, he’s considered to have debuted after him?)

    Imperfect, I agree, but what better system/protocol/etc. would you suggest?

    I agree that the numbering system is thin ice as the women should be included as well in the numbering but I like the idea that as a player you are part on an ongoing historical process and that you are part of a family in a way. It als gives fans the possibility to wear a shirt with their favorite player with up to three big digits printed on it. But they need to renumber, from the moment the women’s team entered club history. Too bad for the youth teams…first team players only.

    I was working for a rather large Telecom company when my daughter was born back in ’17. The company gave me a nice little pink blanket with her name and birthdate embroidered… But… On the note inside the package they accidentally used my employee number instead of my name. It just felt so disgusting. I hung it up on my cube wall and left it there after I eventually jumped ship and walked out those doors for the last time.

    Fun fact though, speaking of “employee numbers” I still know my 11 digit Blockbuster Video number off by heart. Haven’t worked there since ’98, but it’s one of those things that stuck with me as we had to type it in to use the computers/program.

    Cool idea. But the location of the number on the jersey is lacking. Putting the number in the team logo on the front of the jersey (like in the body of the bird or in the ball) would make it extra special.

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