William Gallas was on the new SFR Sport show ‘Le Vestiaire’ (the dressing room) chatting to other former players and he explained why he took the famous no.10 at Arsenal.

It is an interesting story as we all remember how surprising it was at the time to see him take that number.


“When I arrived at Arsenal, I wanted to take no.13, the same number that I had at Chelsea. But it was already taken by Alexander Hleb.”

Franck Leboeuf then asked him, if he could not have nicked it off Hleb. 

“No, because I have always respected the players who already had a shirt number and I couldn’t see myself asking him to give it to me, unlike certain players at Chelsea who wanted my no.13 but that’s another story.”

Then he explained why he picked the famous number. The no.10 in France is an honour only given to playmakers with special quality like Kopa, Platini or Zidane. See the Graham Rix story at Caen.

“As there were no other available number that I liked, I asked for no.10,” Gallas said.

“I thought maybe once in my professional football career I can get the no.10. When I was playing youth football, I was wearing no.10 because I was a midfielder at the time.”  

Gallas had to wait a bit to get his shirt:

“Arsene took a bit of time to give to me, because it was previously worn by Bergkamp.”

This is definitely an unusual story about a defender getting the playmaker shirt.