Atlanta United did something rather interesting today. They announced that the kit number 17 will not be worn by any player and will be reserved for the club’s supporters. Signifying the inaugural season, the club have decided to set aside the number as a show of respect.
“The supporters have always been the most important and fundamental aspects of Atlanta United and they’ve been part of the excitement of this journey building the club as we approach the 5th of March, our first-ever game,” said Atlanta United President Darren Eales. “They’re an integral part of the squad so we felt it was only appropriate that they should have a number that is theirs alone.”
As far as I can remember, this is the first time something like this has happened in MLS. Real Salt Lake retired the No. 9 shirt for Jason Kreis, but I can’t recall a team setting aside a number for the fans.
It’s a bold move considering that No. 17 is a popular number. It is a coveted number in the sport of soccer. The club’s third designated player, Josef Martinez, has worn it a lot throughout his career and requested it when he arrived. However, he was willing to part with it after hearing of the club’s plans.
“It’s the number I’ve had since I’ve been a professional,” Martinez said. “It’s really important to me because it’s the number I’ve worn for the Venezuelan National Team from day one.”
Martinez also sported the number 17 at his former club, Torino in Italy’s Serie A, and even has the number 17 tattooed on his neck. While the number is rich in sentiment for him, he knows this is a decision bigger than himself, his teammates, his coaches, or any individual.
“Seventeen may be my favorite number, but it is for the people of Atlanta.”
What do you think of this move? Think it’s the right one or would you rather them allow players to wear it? Let us know in the comments.