Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has changed his shirt number ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Fernandes, who donned No. 18 when he joined Manchester United in January 2020, has switched to No. 8, which he always wanted, according to a release from the Red Devils.
Juan Mata wore No. 8 but the English attacking midfielder left the club this summer after spending eight years, making way for Fernandes to get his hands on the No. 8 shirt that he wore at Udinese, Sporting and the Portugal national team.
“The last three years I have played as No.8 because it’s the number my father had as a player and my birthday and it’s the number I like,” Fernandes said when quizzed on why he picked No.18 when he joined Manchester United, according to Goal.
“Number 18 is also the birthday of my wife and another reason is, when I grew up, I saw Paul Scholes playing in it and for me having this shirt and this number of an amazing player is something I will enjoy. I know I have a lot of responsibility,” the Portuguese midfielder added.
Fernandes, who has a contract with Manchester United until 2026, already has the number tattooed on his arm.
After moving from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2020 at an $81 million deal, Fernandes has been an influential figure in the squad, having contributed with 50 goals and 39 assists in 139 appearances.
Meanwhile, former England midfielder Paul Ince was the first player to don No.8 at Manchester United when fixed shirt numbers were introduced in 1993. The No. 8 shirt was then worn by another midfielder, Nicky Butt, who played for the Red Devils from 1992 to 2004. Legendary forward Wayne Rooney wore No. 8 briefly before he switched to No. 10 in 2007, while midfielder Anderson also wore it.
Mata, who moved from Chelsea to Manchester United in January 2014, got the No. 8 shirt the following season and held on to it until his departure from the club at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Manchester United‘s new boss Erik ten Hag has been busy with the club’s summer transfer window as he looks to strengthen the squad for the new campaign. The Red Devils did not win a single trophy last term.