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Why Fuss Over A Squad Number?

A few days ago, the Chelsea FC megastore ‘announced’ Oscar’s squad number as #11, when they put the kit on sale. Although you won’t find any evidence of this supposed gaffe on the website anymore, the news spread like wildfire & also sparked a bit of a debate on Twitter. Many argued that Oscar had done nothing to earn the #11 & shouldn’t be given the number, while others shrugged off the story, saying that it’s just a number. Some even called for the #11 to be retired in honour of Drogba.
The reaction actually got me thinking. No one can refute the fact that Didier is a club legend. But does that mean we need to retire the number? The answer is a big “No”.

Since I’m being honest, I may as well admit that I’m not a fan of squad numbers being retired. In certain cases, maybe. But not all cases.

One argument I’ve heard is, “If Chelsea could retire the #25 in honour of Zola, we can definitely retire the #11 in honour of Drogba”. That argument is factually incorrect, as the #25 has NOT been retired by Chelsea. The number is still active, but hasn’t been used by anyone else since Zola’s departure.

Also, one can admit that Drogba isn’t the only Chelsea player of his generation that can be considered a legend. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole & even Petr Cech could & should be considered legends whenever their Chelsea careers do come to an end (I honestly hope they all retire at Chelsea). Does that mean we should retire the numbers 26, 8, 3 & 1 as well? If we keep doing that, soon we’ll arrive at a situation when the club will have no squad numbers to give to our future squad!

Another argument I’ve heard is, “Oscar will never be able to live up to Didier”. That’s laughable. It’s foolish to expect Oscar to “live up to Didier”. Rather, we should give the talented young lad all the encouragement he needs to become a star for Chelsea. He already has to prove himself on the big stage, so why burden him with the unnecessary pressure of having to live up to a squad number? It’s ridiculous.

At the end of the day, it’s just a number.

Shayne Dias

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