West Ham United have announced that popular forward Michail Antonio will wear the club’s number nine shirt this season and beyond, trading down from the number 30 shirt he wore for his first six years in east London following a 2015 transfer from Nottingham Forest.
Antonio joined the Hammers as a winger and has even played right-back at times. But he also played up front on occasion early on, and has spent most of the last two seasons as a central striker.
Antonio takes over the number nine shirt from Saïd Benrahma, who struggled to make the desired impact in his first season at the club and will now wear number 22 instead.
“People have been telling me to take the No9 for the last couple of seasons, particularly after the restart (in 2020) when I scored a lot of goals,” Antonio told WHUFC.com.
“It was available last summer before Saïd joined, but I had been the No30 since I joined and it’s done me well as I’m still here and scoring goals, so I stuck with it last season.
“The No9 shirt is a massive shirt and has been worn by some big players in the history of West Ham United. I have played all the over the pitch, even at right-back, but I think I can be confident that I’m a centre-forward now, so taking the No9 now made sense and I can’t wait to wear it!”
For Benrahma, 22 is the shirt number his late father, Mohamed, always wanted him to wear.
“This is my father’s number, the number he wanted me to have, but I have never had it before in my career, I want to honour my father and now I can do that every time I play by wearing the number he always wanted me to take,” the winger explained.