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Soccer positions and numbers explained



Soccer positions and numbers explained


Soccer positions are different and is assigned to players based on their unique ability to play with confidence.

Soccer is a game played by eleven players with an additional three who can be introduced as substitutes.



List of soccer positions and numbers 


1. Goalkeeper


The goalkeeper is the guardian of the goal post. His job between the sticks is to ensure balls never penetrate the net. At least the Goalkeeper should try to stop the ball from moving into the back of the net.


The goalkeeper is one of the essential players in any soccer team. Without him handling the goal post, loose balls would find their way unto the back of the net.


Every soccer team’s effort on the field of play would go down the drain due to the inability of your Goalkeeper to prevent loose balls. Having weak a stronghold, opposing teams would find it easier to put the ball through the post.


Again, regardless of the creativity your goalkeeper possesses, the quality of a player remains crucial to the team’s success.

Roles of a Goalkeeper

  • Your Goalkeeper must possess some level of quality to prevent the balls from going into the back of the net.
  • Some of the top skills include alertness to unexpected through balls.
  • Ball prevention, intelligence during difficult situations like the penalty shootout or one-on-one with an opposing attacker.
  • He should also have the ability to provide quality passes for his teammates.
  • Long balls and assistance to his teammates are well-timed are some of the top skills a quality Goalkeeper must always possess.


In today’s football, top goalkeepers, including Ederson Moraes, Manuel Neuer and Allison, are consistently rated high in any competition they participate.


Example of good Goalkeepers

Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer stands out as one of the best in the world due to some of the heroics saves he has made for Bayern Munich.


Some unique abilities include making challenging stops and saving potential match-deciding opportunities that would have favoured the opposition. He plays for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga, the country’s top-tier league.


Neuer is also recognised for his ability to dribble past opponents.


Ederson Moraes


Ederson Moraes has been part of Manchester City since 2017. He i also regarded as one of the best Goalkeepers in the world.


The Brazilian is known for stopping important balls from going into the back of his net. Moraes also have impressive final decision-making abilities.


His contributions have also helped Manchester City’s quest for glory within and outside England.


2. Full Backs


The Full Backs in any team are essential players capable of dictating the game’s pace from the back. The team’s counterattacks usually start from the back through the full-backs before spreading to other positions on the field.


He is often a side defender, offering quality defensive resistance against opponents. He also sends crosses in the box inside the opponent’s half, which helps to create goal-scoring opportunities for the midfielders to locate the frontline attackers quickly.


One of the top clever jobs the full-backs perform is to man-mark opposition players as they hunger towards his defensive half.


The defensive ability he possesses prevents the ball from getting through to the goalkeeper.


Today, clubs spend huge sums of money to acquire the services of fullbacks who possess the unique ability to help their team grow to a more formidable side.


Example good Full backs

João Cancelo


João Cancelo is a professional soccer player who currently plays as a full-back for English Premier League outfit Manchester City. He is regarded to be one of the best full-backs in the world.


He has been the mainstay in the defence for Pep Guardiola, who consistently emerged as one of the best coaches in the EPL. The Portuguese international posses speed, energy and offensive capabilities.


He also has excellent technique, dribbling skills, creativity and the ability to make good crosses into the opponent’s half.


João Cancelo helped Manchester City to a much-deserved EFL Cup triumph at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur.


3. Position: Wing back


The job of the wing-back is to send quality crosses into the opposition half. He ensures the ball is well-timed at his teammates waiting to take the ball from him in the opponent’s half.


The wing-back’s brilliance is crucial to the overall performance of any team in the match. Making solo runs that would yield quality crosses remains his main target on the field of play.


This is why teams tend to cover the wing back from operating to their full potential. And what that means, if the Wing back is given the free role to operate to his full potential on the field, more quality crosses that would lead to more goals are expected to come through.


Today, big sides in top Europe spend a lot to acquire the services of a brilliant wing back that would guarantee the team with quality crosses into the opponent’s half for midfielders and wingers to handle.


Example of good full backs in soccer

Trent Alexander-Arnold


Trent Alexander-Arnold is an English professional soccer player who plays for English Premier League outfit Liverpool FC as a defender.


He is currently regarded as one of the best full-backs in the world, which is a result of his ability to occupy attacking spaces and create goal-scoring opportunities for his team.


At Liverpool and in the EPL, he is often seen as the most creative footballer. He was assist goals from set-piece deliveries.


Alexander-Arnold is gifted with well-timed perfect passes to his teammates on the pitch. He is also a product of the Liverpool youth setup. He was part of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League title-winning squad in 2018 and played a central role in the team’s journey to lifting the trophy.


4. Centre back (stopper)


The centre-back saves the team from central offensive players from the opposing team. What the centre-back does is to instil fear in attackers by man-marking them closely without any gap, which could lead to an unwanted goal.


He is also capable of shutting down opposition defenders during precise counterattacks.


The stopper prevents unwanted attacks from penetrating his 18-yard box. As opposition attackers charge forward in search of goals, the brilliant centre-back stopper will try to confuse. He is sprinting and making solo runs, thereby boosting the confidence level of his team when needed.


A team without a quality stopper is just like a sitting turtle duck. These are some of the reasons top clubs spend a huge sum of money to sign a quality centre-back to bolster their squad for the tough challenges ahead. The five and six positions are good options.


The work rate is slightly reduced compared to wing-back and full-backs.


Good example of center backs


Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool


Robust and more physical. Virgil Van Dijk is a Dutch professional footballer who plays currently as a defender for EPL side Liverpool.


Before the Anfield landlords discovered him, Van Dijk formed a crucial part of the title sweeping Celtic in Scotland and eventually with Southampton.


His contributions were enough to see Celtic dominate Scotland for a long time before switching to Premier League.


Usually, he is deployed at the left-hand position of the central defensive role. He can take compelling set pieces. He is also known for his excellent technique and final third decision-making abilities.


5. Soccer Position: Centre back (sweeper)


The sweeper performs an excellent job in the defence for his team. He quickly covers gaps created within areas with spaces to protect his overlapping wing-backs and full-backs.


He is also a man marker by giving opposition players tough times, which ends up in recovering the ball off them.


The centre-back sweeper also plays an advanced role on the pitch by joining the midfielders in the midfield position. He charges forward by making himself available for the midfielders for continuous ball flow and passes.


By doing so, the team gains more possession in the middle of the park, potentially creating a goal-scoring opportunity for the team.


Sweepers in modern football are so important, causing big teams to send scouts to academies in search of young promising players.


Good example of a quality centre-back sweeper

Sergio Ramos 


Sergio Ramos is a Spanish professional soccer player who plays currently as a defender for Paris Saint-Germain in the French top flight. He was known for his well-timed tackles, set pieces and crosses. Ramos was seen as the best defender in his team.


Despite his position as a defender, Ramos is also good at goal-scoring. His goals have helped save the blushes of Real Madrid in important matches.


6. Position: Centre back (quarterbacks)


This is the core or the central part of any team. He is assigned the role of stopping the ball from passing through, just like the job of the sweeper.


7. Soccer Position: Defensive Midfielder


The Defensive Midfielder sits in front of the team’s defenders at the back to further help dictate the game’s pace. At all times, before the ball goes beyond the defensive midfielder, he is the first to encounter the ball as it moves towards the defensive half of his team.


Ball winner: He must ensure balls are taken off the foot of the opposition player during the run of play. The level of creativity on his part is also crucial to the team’s growth.


Deep lying playmaker: The number four is the fantastic four performing most of the defensive duties in the midfield without relying solely on the quarterbacks.


How defensive midfielders operate in some cases


Static (standing defensive midfielder): Sticks to his position without advancing further into the opponent’s half. His role on the pitch is always deep in his half to protect the defenders from vulnerable attacks from the opposite end.


Dynamic (Moving defensive midfielder): The dynamic or Moving defensive midfielder is the most modern footballer in high demand and plays a similar role to the box-to-box midfielder. What he does is protect the defenders.


At the same time, advances deeper inside the opponent’s half to win and distribute balls to the frontline. He also makes himself available for crosses, free kicks and corner kicks.


He is working alongside the midfielders to create goal-scoring opportunities for his team.


A perfect example in the English Premier League is Wilfred Ndidi and Fred at Leicester City and Manchester United, respectively.


Good example of defensive midfielders

Fred – Manchester United


Fred is a Brazilian professional soccer player who currently plays midfielder for Manchester United in the EPL. Regarded as one of the best in his position, the Brazilian has done remarkably well for his club in recent years.


His performance so far for United has added the term irreplaceable in the team, at least for the time being.


His defensive abilities have been praised by football fans and followers who follow up with his performance for Manchester United across all competitions.


Wilfred Ndidi – Leicester City


Wilfred is a professional soccer player who plays for Leicester City in the EPL and is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the division over the past few years.


His form has contributed immensely to Leicester City’s success in top competitions, including the Premier League.


8. Position: Wide Midfielder


The Wide Midfielder performs an outstanding job by preventing attacks from opposition players from accessing his defensive half. He provides total protection for the full-backs.


9. Soccer Position: Attacking Midfielder


The attacking midfielder provides crosses toward the frontline attackers. Also, creating goal-scoring opportunities as well.


His job is to remain at the offensive position at all times and delivering goal scoring opportunities when possible.


10. Soccer Position: Box to Box Midfielder


The box-to-box midfielder is a central midfielder who is hard-working and possesses good all-around abilities.

This makes the box-to-box midfielder skilled at both defending and attacking for his team.


Good example of a Box to Box Midfielder


Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United


He is a perfect example of a box-to-box midfielder, currently leading the charge for Manchester United. His brilliant form has earned him a place in the Premier League elites and the best of his position.


11. Winger


The winger plays an expansive attacking football, coming through the flanks before turning to the central position. He provides goal-scoring opportunities for the striker.


Good example of Winger


Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho is one of the best wingers in world football right now. His ability made him stand out in the German Bundesliga as one of the best. Although his first season at Man United wasn’t at his best, he is expected to improve on his game.


12. Soccer Position: False Nine


The false 9 in any team is a type of player in the centre-forward position who tends to drop deep and team up with his midfielders to claim possession.


Rather than sticking to the opponent box, waiting for scoring opportunities to come, he returns to his teammates in the middle of the park to dictate play a little bit.


The role of false nine-play, on the other hand, is aimed at disrupting the opposition defence. He is expected to drop deep into the midfield as a supporting midfielder from the attack.


When a team is a side playing with a false nine, it means they are playing without a dedicated striker or target man up front.


Example of a False Nine

Lionel Messi


The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been employed as False Nine in many games the club had played across all competitions, which worked perfectly for them.


Messi, as a false nine, has gone on to win several individual awards, including the FIFA best footballer award. For Barcelona, he has been so helpful to the club, dropping dip into the midfield to win off balls from opposition players.


This was famously seen during Barcelona’s all-important UEFA Champions League clash with Paris Saint-German after the Catalans had lost heavily in the first leg.


With Neymar also helping out, Messi managed Barcelona’s attack as a false nine back to contention for the Champions League title but was knocked out by Liverpool in the next round.


Eden Hazard


Eden Hazard is another top-class forward in football who can light up your team on his good day.


During his time at Chelsea, he was singlehandedly doing most of the attacking duties for the club in domestic and international competitions.


Hazard was the main focus whenever Chelsea played any football match. Moving over to Real Madrid, his form dropped, which can be attributed to a series of injuries.


13. Position: Forward


He plays in between the midfielders.

Forwards football are saddled with the responsibility of scoring goals for their team. The Forwards is the front-line chief attacker and the leading offensive player on the pitch.


As the ball is drawn to him, himself and the goal post is where the work lies. He races to the ball to break the opposition defence and score goals for his team.


14. The Attacker or Striker (top nine)


You are saddled with the responsibility of scoring goals for the team. Here, your only job is to shrug off defenders and score the much-needed goals for your team.


Although it is not as easy as it sounds, attackers do a lot of jobs trying to put the ball in the back of the net for their team.


The striker is the closest to the opponent’s goal post and is assigned the role of scoring goals for the team.  He gets more attention because of the role he plays, and it is because he can score goals when necessary.


He must remain in the goal-scoring position so that whenever the chance presents itself, he will be able to score. Sometimes the forward may decide to drive back into the midfield, win balls and race towards the opposition goal post.




Soccer positions and roles are assigned to players based on their skills. What makes a player stand out in any particular part you play is your ability to make crucial decisions that would lead to your team’s success in the end.


To become successful, players are advised you to pick a position they believe they can easily handle.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.

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