Famous soccer players with number 12: Find out which players are in the list

Famous soccer players with number 12: Find out which players are in the list

Claudia Kogi
updated at November 5, 2023 at 12:42 PM
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In soccer, numbers were historically used to denote the starting eleven. So, the goalie would be number one, and the farthest player down the field would be number eleven. Soccer players with number 12 represent the first substitute on the bench, usually the backup goalkeeper. However, over time, the numbering system evolved, and jersey numbers are currently used to identify individual players and positions; thus, jersey 12 can be worn by any player.

Famous soccer players with number 12
German fans celebrate with a huge jersey with the number 12 during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualification match between Germany and Georgia at Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, Germany on 11 October 2015. Photo: Jens Wolf (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The jersey 12 has been represented across numerous positions, from energetic attackers and creative midfielders to sturdy defenders, leaving its mark in football history. Players with this number have frequently risen, delivering remarkable performances and engraving their names in the sport's annals.

Top 10 famous number 12 soccer players

Football legends like Thierry Henry, John Mikel, and Marcelo have worn the jersey 12. These athletes exceeded the number's conventional expectations, converting it into a sign of greatness and dependability. According to sources, here is a detailed list of the top 10 famous soccer players with jersey number 12 as compiled by Sports Brief.

10. Thierry Henry

  • Team(s): AS Monaco, Arsenal FC, France
  • Achievements: Ligue 1 champion, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship, and FIFA Confederations Cup
Soccer players with jersey number 12
Thierry Henry of Arsenal during the Premier League Trophy parade on 16 May 2004 in London, England. Photo: Stuart MacFarlane
Source: Getty Images

Thierry Henry is best known for wearing the number 14 shirt for Arsenal. However, he wore jersey 12 throughout his early years at Monaco and for France. When he returned to Arsenal in 2012, he donned jersey 12 because Walcott was wearing 14 then.

Henry is regarded as one of the best attackers of all time, as well as one of the greatest Premier League players in history. He helped Monaco win the Ligue 1 title and was a member of the French national squad that won the World Cup in 1998.

9. Eduardo Camavinga

Famous number 12 soccer players
Eduardo Camavinga of Real Madrid runs with the ball during the La Liga EA Sports match against Real Madrid CF at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on 28 October 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Eric Alonso
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Stade Rennais FC, Real Madrid
  • Achievements: 1-time La Liga and Copa del Rey champion, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup

Camavinga is a Real Madrid centre midfielder who wears jersey 12. His adaptability has propelled him to prominence in Madrid. Although he is naturally a midfielder, he has also been utilised as a left defender and defensive midfielder by Carlo Ancelotti.

The renowned Real Madrid legend was signed by Real Madrid in 2021 and given the jersey 25. After Marcelo's departure, he took over his jersey as the new number 12.

8. Phil Neville

Professional soccer players with number 12
Phil Neville of Manchester United celebrates after scoring the fourth goal of the match during the FA Cup match against West Ham United on 26 January 2003 at Old Trafford, in Manchester, England. Photo: Alex Livesey
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Manchester United, England
  • Achievements: 6-time Premier League winner, 3-time FA Cup winner, UEFA Champions League

Phil Neville joined Manchester United's youth program 1992 and was among the famous number 12 soccer athletes. He was a right-back on the team who played with heart and passion when called upon by Sir Alex Ferguson.

He made his United debut in 1994, wearing the jersey 23. Later, in 1996, when he was a regular squad member, he was assigned the jersey 12. During his ten-year tenure with Manchester United, he won multiple titles and went down in history as the greatest ever.

7. Christian Abbiati

Famous number 12 soccer athletes
Christian Abbiati of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match against UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on 28 September 2013 in Milan, Italy. Photo: Marco Luzzani
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Calcio Monza, AC Milan, Italy
  • Achievements: 3-time Serie A champion, Coppa Italia, 1-time UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup winner.

Christian Abbiati began his career as a number 12 at Monza before moving to AC Milan. That season, he won his first Serie A title and thus went down in history as one of the famous soccer players with number 12.

He remained Milan's first-choice goalkeeper for the following four years until he was replaced in 2002 by Dida. With 380 appearances, Abbiati leads the Milan goalkeeping record and is considered one of Italy's top goalkeepers.

6. Dida

Famous number 12 soccer players
Dida kicks the ball during the match between Internacional and Vitoria as part of Brasileirao Series A 2014 at Beira Rio Stadium on 19 April 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Photo: Lucas Uebel
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Corinthians, AC Milan, Grêmio Football Porto Alegrense, Brazil
  • Achievements: Serie A title, 2-time Champions League winner, FIFA Club World Cup, Coppa Italia, and 2-time UEFA Super Cup winner

Dida, a great Brazilian goalkeeper, was among the professional soccer players with number 12. With his penalty-saving abilities, he rose to prominence.

Dida moved from Corinthians in Brazil to AC Milan in 2000, where he first wore the jersey 32. In his second season, he was given the jersey 12, and he was used as the first-choice goalie at Milan for a decade. In doing so, he won multiple trophies at the club.

5. Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Famous number 12 soccer players
Giovanni van Bronckhorst during the match between Feyenoord and Celtic for the UEFA Champions League in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 19 September 2023. Photo: Marcel van Dorst
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Rangers FC, FC Barcelona
  • Achievements: 3-time Scottish Premier League winner, Scottish League Cup, 2-time La Liga winner, UEFA Champions League

Giovanni van Bronckhorst is a former left-back and midfielder. He could play as a midfielder or left-back due to his versatility on the pitch, making him a significant addition to his side. In 1998, he joined Rangers from his childhood club, Feyenoord.

He joined Barcelona in 2003 and was given the jersey 12. Despite his brief tenure, he had great success there. He spent four years with the club, contributing to two La Liga championships and one Champions League victory

4. Júlio César

Best soccer players with number 12
Julio Cesar of FC Internazionale looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League match against Real Madrid at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on 15 September 2021 in Milan, Italy. Photo: Sportinfoto
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): CR Flamengo, Chievo Verona, Inter Milan, SL Benfica, Brazil
  • Achievements: 5-time Serie A winner, UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, Golden Glove, 2-time FIFA Confederations Cup.

The legendary Brazilian goalkeeper Júlio César went down in history with his remarkable goalkeeping skills and as one of best soccer players with number 12. He moved to Serie A team Inter Milan in 2005 and was given jersey 12.

The renowned legend was crucial to Inter's 2010 treble-winning campaign, which saw them win the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Champions League, and the Serie A championship. He became known as one of the best keepers in the world due to his saves.

3. John Obi Mikel

Professional soccer players with number 12
John Obi Mikel of Stoke City looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match against Derby County at Bet365 Stadium on 20 March 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. Photo: Malcolm Couzens
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): Chelsea FC, Trabzonspor, Kuwait SC
  • Achievements: 2-time Premier League champion, 4-time FA Cup winner, 2-time League Cup winner, Champions League and Europa League

Mikel is inextricably linked to Chelsea Football Club's legacy. Scouts and coaches saw Mikel's natural soccer skills from the beginning of his childhood. When he moved to Chelsea in 2005, he decided to wear jersey 12.

But because both Chelsea and Manchester United wanted to recruit him, there was a lot of controversy surrounding his move. Ultimately, the issue was settled, and Mikel's efforts paid off since he became one of Chelsea's top players for over a decade.

2. Olivier Giroud

Best soccer players with number 12
Olivier Giroud of AC Milan during the Serie A TIM match against SSC Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on 29 October 2023 in Naples, Italy. Photo: Ivan Romano
Source: Getty Images
  • Team(s): FC Istres Ouest Provence, Tours FC, Arsenal FC, AC Milan
  • Achievements: Ligue 1 winner, 3-time FA Cups and Community Shield winner

Olivier Giroud has virtually accomplished everything in soccer, including scoring incredible goals and has gone down in French football history with the most goals scored. In 2012, he signed for Arsenal and wore jersey 12 and Arsenal supporters grew fond of him.

The renowned legend made 253 appearances for Arsenal, scoring an outstanding 105 goals and providing 41 assists. By winning three FA Cups, he also assisted Arsenal in ending their nine-year trophy drought.

1. Marcelo

  • Team(s): Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Fluminense, Brazil
  • Achievements: 6-time La Liga winner, 5-time UEFA Champions League winner, thrice UEFA Super Cup winner, and 4-times FIFA World Cup

Many people consider Marcelo to be among the best left-backs in soccer history. His most well-known period was spent as a number 12 at Real Madrid, where he played a pivotal role for over ten years.

The renowned legend began his professional career at Fluminense in Brazil before transferring to Real Madrid in 2007, where he won the UEFA Champions League thrice. He received several honours for his accomplishments, including several nominations.

Famous soccer players with number 12
Real Madrid defender, Marcelo (12), during the first half of the International Champions Cup game against Atletico Madrid on 26 July 2019 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Photo: Rich Graessle
Source: Getty Images

What is number 12 in football?

Many times, the second-choice goalkeeper wears jersey 12, which is the first shirt of the second lineup. When it was permissible to use five substitute players in a game, the goalie would frequently wear the jersey 16, the squad's last jersey number.

Can soccer players pick their numbers?

Regarding jersey numbers and positions, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines. It is important to note that players are often allowed to select any number they like, up to 99. However, the conventional 1–11 numbering systems designate specific locations on the field.

The last stitch

To wrap up, the famous number 12 soccer players have become the sport's most famous individuals, each bringing their style, flair, and skill to the field. In addition to showcasing their extraordinary talents, these players have been vital members of their respective teams, producing magical moments and establishing a legacy that will last for decades.

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Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined Sportsbrief.com as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.