In football, there is an attraction to the lower numbers. More so than in any other sport, one through 11 are seen as iconic. First team numbers. And so when Brad Jones left, freeing up the number one this summer, there was some speculation that Simon Mignolet might abandon the 22 in its favour.
"I was offered the number one, but 22 is my number," the Belgian explained on the club’s official website. "I’ve always worn it, ever since I started playing professional football—I started with that number back in Belgium, I wore it at Sunderland, and I started my career here at Liverpool with it, so I didn’t want to change it.
"I wouldn’t say I was superstitious, but it’s something that is part of me. When you feel comfortable and it’s something good, why would you change it?"
Last year, with things not going well for the goalkeeper on the pitch, he might have had second thoughts. Having turned his club career around over the past six months—and gotten married along the way—he’s happy with where he is and to keep his number.
"I’m happy personally with how things are going, both on and off the pitch, in 2015. The way I responded after my short period on the bench, coming back and keeping clean sheets, winning the Player of the Year award from the LFC Legends, getting married and having a good start to this season."
That good start has seen Liverpool earn three clean sheets, with Mignolet forced into a few key saves to keep the shutout against Arsenal in particular. Mignolet, though, wants to wait until after West Ham before trying to judge just how good Liverpool’s start to the season has been.
"We’re happy with how things are going," he added. "We won our first two games and then when you go away to Arsenal, to keep another clean sheet and get a point, you’re pleased. There’s still one game to go before the international break against West Ham, so if we can win that we can speak of a good start to the season."
Belgium are set to face Bosnia and Herzegovina on September third and Cyprus on the ninth in Euro 2016 qualification, though as with Pepe Reina and the Spanish National Team before him, Mignolet is likely to be on the bench behind his nation’s entrenched number one, Thibaut Courtois.