William Gallas spent time at Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur during his 12-year stint in the Premier League.

Arsenal’s former number 10 – William Gallas 

Former Arsenal star William Gallas has explained to French Sports media outlet SFR’s new show Le Vestiaire his reasoning behind taking the number 10 shirt at the Emirates.

The 84-capped France international joined the Gunners from Chelsea in the summer of 2006 as part of the deal that took Ashley Cole in the opposite direction.

He went on to make 145 appearances for the North-London outfit during a four-year spell, before joining the Gunners’ fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Gallas was being interviewed by his countryman Franck Leboeuf on Le Vestiaire and was quizzed on the reasoning behind his shirt number choice at Arsenal.

The Frenchman responded:

Alexander Hleb held the number 13 shirt at Arsenal when Gallas arrived

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“When I arrived at Arsenal, I wanted to take no.13, the same number that I had at Chelsea. But it was already taken by Alexander Hleb. I have always respected the players who already had a shirt number and I couldn’t see myself asking him to give it to me, unlike certain players at Chelsea who wanted my no.13 but that’s another story.”

He went on to say:

“As there were no other available numbers that I liked, I asked for no.10. I thought maybe once in my professional football career I can get the no.10. When I was playing youth football, I was wearing no.10 because I was a midfielder at the time. Arsene took a bit of time to give to me, because it was previously worn by Bergkamp.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

The video of the interview can be seen below, via SFR’s official Twitter account:


While Gallas was a fantastic defender in his prime, he is probably more remembered amongst Arsenal fans for his dramatic mental collapses, rather than his performances on the pitch.

One such display in particular that will live long in the memories of Gunners fans was his show of petulance when Arsenal conceded a last-minute penalty to Birmingham City in February 2008 – which cost them two points, when a win would have taken the Gunners eight points clear at the top of the table.

The former Chelsea and Spurs man wandered to the opposite end of the pitch and sat on the ground with his head in his hands. He refused to leave the pitch, despite repeated attempts from manager Arsene Wenger to escort him down the tunnel.

A true maverick in every sense of the word, Gallas will be remembered in more ways than one.

William Gallas during his time at Arsenal

In other news, Report: English midfielder could join Newcastle in January