West Ham United stars Michail Antonio and Saïd Benrahma will wear new shirt numbers for the 2021/22 season.
Antonio will take the No9 shirt, while Benrahma will wear the No22, changing from the No30 and No9 respectively.
Both players explained their reasons for taking a new squad number for the campaign ahead, which will see the Hammers compete in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time.
Benrahma revealed that the No22 is a shirt number his late father Mohamed, who passed away in January 2020, had 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,” explained the Algeria international, who celebrated the goals he scored for Brentford in the weeks after his father’s death by revealing a t-shirt with the message ‘JE T’AIME PAPA’, which translates as ‘I love you, Dad’.
“I have worn the No10 and No9 shirts before, which you expect for a player who plays in my position, but the No22 has never been available to me until now.
“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.”
This is my father’s number, the number he wanted me to have, but I have never had it before in my career
Antonio, who had worn the No30 for six seasons since joining the Hammers from Nottingham Forest in September, said his switch was a natural decision following his full-time switch to centre-forward in the spring of last year.
“People have been telling me to take the No9 for the last couple of seasons, particularly after the restart when I scored a lot of goals. 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.
“Obviously 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!”
Antonio and Benrahma follow Pablo Fornals in switching to a new squad number, with the Spain midfielder taking the No8 for the upcoming season.
If you have purchased a 2021/22 Home Kit with Antonio No30 or Benrahma No9 printing and would like to change it, please take it to one of our four Official Club Stores for a free replacement.
Supporters should bear in mind that, until announced on official Club channels, first-team squad numbers for the 2021/22 season are unconfirmed.