Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has revealed which legendary former player has inspired him to wear ‘lucky’ number five during his career.
The Dutchman is one of the Reds’ most valuable players, and has played a crucial role in helping Jurgen Klopp’s side build an unassailable 25 point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Winning the title has had to go on the backburner for now, but that hasn’t stopped Wijnaldum from telling Goal of his childhood admiration for Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane – who the 29-year-old revealed is the inspiration behind his decision to wear the number five shirt at former clubs Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Newcastle, as well as current employers Liverpool.
“Number five is a really special number for me, It was my lucky number when I was young but also because my favourite player, Zinedine Zidane, was playing with number five,” Wijnaldum said.
“I was really happy that I could start my professional career as number five. Since then I’ve played with the number five at Newcastle and when I came to Liverpool.”
Zidane – who is in his second spell in charge of Real Madrid – has won a plethora of trophies both as a player and as a manager.
On the pitch, the Frenchman – who bizarrely almost signed for Blackburn in 1995 – helped steer his country to World Cup and European Championship glory, while in the dugout he oversaw three Champions League successes for Real between 2014 and 2016 – an unprecedented feat in modern times.
It’s understandable why Wijnaldum looked up to Zidane when he was younger, and while he doesn’t possess the same wizardry talent, there’s few who could argue against the Dutchman being rated as one of the best midfielders in the world right now.
His all-action displays, ability to play in different roles and penchant for scoring important goals are all standout features of his game, while his tireless running and outstanding work ethic are vital to Liverpool’s style of play.
Yes, there are traditionalists who loathe the idea of anyone but a centre back taking the number five journey, but given the story behind it, you can’t help but like the personable Wijnaldum even more for doing so.