The curse of the number 16 shirt at Real Madrid

The curse of the number 16 shirt at Real Madrid


Real Madrid unveiled Lucas Silva on Monday as the new Los Blancos signing. The Brazilian midfielder will wear the number 16 on the back, so he will face the challenge of ending the curse that has traditionally affected that jersey at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Nevertheless, Gabriel Heinze is the only footballer that has managed to succeed at Real wearing that number. The Argentinian was a key piece in the Madrid squad that won the 2007/08 La Liga. He’s the exception that proves the rule.

Alfonso Perez (1994/95) was the first man to wear the 16 in the last two decades. However, with Los Merengues he never played at the high level he would later show at Betis and Spain national team. Jaime Sanchez would be the next (1997/98). The Spanish midfielder was never a regular starter and his career at the club was short.

Samuel Eto’o would be next, wearing the 16 during the 1999/2000 season. The Cameroon international, a teenager back then, didn’t have many chances to prove his quality before leaving Madrid.

After Eto’o, Flavio Conceicao was next to give number 16 a try. The Brazilian arrived at the club in the 2000/01 season causing great expectation after his success at Deportivo de La Coruna, with whom he won La Liga in 2000. However, despite paying 24 million euros for him, Conceicao passed unnoticed in his three seasons with Los Blancos.

Thomas Gravesen would be the next brave man to choose number 16. The Danish international arrived, just like Lucas Silva, in the winter transfer market of the 2004/05 season. Despite his vigour on the field, he’s most reminded for the funny images he left than for his good performances.

Fernando Gago also arrived in January, more precisely in 2007, and he wore the number 16 shirt in his first season. The Argentinian was unable to succeed with Los Blancos despite spending five seasons at the club.

The curse would have a two season break in the two seasons Heinze spent in Madrid (2007-09). It seemed like young and talented Sergio Canales would confirm the end of this hex, but he never shone at Real like he had at Racing de Santander.

Hamit Altintop would go next, but despite being one of Jose Mourinho’s favourites he didn’t succeed either. Casemiro was the last player to wear the number 16 jersey, yet he didn’t have many chances last season. Will Lucas Silva put an end to this curse?


  1. Why it’s taking so long to play Lucas at this time where the team needs some fresh legs? I don’t pretend to know better but if you sign a player during the season, in my opinion it is to use him. Especially when some of your current players have shown their limits on the pitch. Please Anceloti, try some of your new signings.