Memo Ochoa Is Going to Wear #8 at His New Club, and Soccer Number Purists Are Pissed

Lead Photo: Guillermo Ochoa looks on during a Mexico training session. Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images
Guillermo Ochoa looks on during a Mexico training session. Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images
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You would think that a goalkeeper selecting an unorthodox jersey number wouldn’t rile people up, but you would apparently be wrong. Mexican goalkeeper and newly signed Standard de Liège player Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa decided to go off book for his new kit number, foregoing the traditional #1 or #12 to choose #8, a number commonly assigned to a midfielder.

Ochoa’s reasoning is bizarre yet makes some form of sense: it’s because of his name. “Ochoa” is similar to “Ocho,” the Spanish word for 8. Mind blown.

However, there is a strange subset of fans who believe numbers are sacred and rigid; certain digits should only go to certain positions (like 1 for goalies, 6 for defensive midfielders, 10 for playmaking center attacking mids, and 9 for strikers). To them, Ochoa’s choice is less personal preference and more a disrespect to the very traditions of soccer.

One headline even called it a “total disgrace” which seems like a bit much.

After all, Ochoa, in bucking the numerical system, is just following in the footsteps of fellow weirdos like Ronaldinho (who went from #10 to #80 upon moving to AC Milan from Barcelona), Bixente Lizarazu’s #nice choice of 69 at Bayern Munich, and Gianluigi Buffon’s awkward #88 at Parma. Strange choices, to be sure, but their respective teams weren’t complaining when the performances were up to par on the field.

Better than the haters hemming and hawing about Ochoa’s choice are those who are taking it in stride, including the minor meme that Memo chose it because of El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio’s rather erratic substitution and lineup patterns. In their eyes, Ochoa is only picking 8 so that, if and when Osorio decides to throw him in as a winger, he doesn’t have to change his number.

At the end of the day, though, Ochoa has the last laugh, as he’s been repping the number 8 for years: his Twitter handle is @yosoy8a, and as we all know, Twitter is more important than anything else.