There was a large outpouring of emotion following Fabrice Muamba's retirement announcement yesterday. Everyone was upset that the young man's health had forced him to leave the professional game at such a young age. One of the strongest cries came from those who thought it would be wonderful if Bolton Wanderers retired Fabrice Muamba's number 6 as a mark of respect.
Not allowing any future Bolton players to wear the number 6 simply isn't an option for a number of reasons.
It is too soon to decide whether the outcry to retire the number was a genuine feeling or a knee-jerk reaction to the news. Muamba's retirement was not something that many Bolton fans wanted to hear. From the moment that we learned that Fab was OK, there was the lingering hope that the story would have a fairy tale ending: one with Fabrice back in a Bolton shirt, picking up his defensive midfield duties. When it came time to face the music, grief (if you would like to call it that) among Bolton fans kicked in. Retiring a number is not something that should be taken lightly.
Lest we forget that the late Gary Speedo wore the number 6 shirt as well. Retiring it for Fabrice Muamba and not for Speedo would certainly hurt the latter's legacy, a man that meant so much to Bolton, Leeds United, Everton, and Newcastle United fans.
The legendary (there's no other word to better describe) Nat Lofthouse wore the number 9 shirt for Bolton Wanderers for 14 years. Without a doubt, he is the greatest player to ever don a Trotters kit, scoring over 255 goals in 452 appearances for the club. When Nat died last January, there were cries to retire his number 9 shirt. If there was ever to be a precedent for our incredible club, it should be the great Lion of Vienna.
Whether you like it or not, traditional numbering on kits is still very much alive in football and at Bolton Wanderers. Our goalkeeper has the number one shirt, defenders wear 2-5, so on and so forth. Retiring the number 6 (or number 9 shirt for that matter) completely dissolves the traditional scheme.
What do you think, should the number 6 be retired in honor of Fabrice Muamba?