Jay Spearing has been handed the number 6 shirt for Bolton Wanderers following his permanent move from Liverpool on a four year deal. The number 20 shirt that Spearing wore last season during his year-long loan at Bolton had gone to Joe Riley this year after Marc Tierney took his 23. The 6 shirt isn't just any old number for Bolton Wanderers though. It is the number that Fabrics Muamba wore in his time at Bolton and it was the number on his back when he collapsed at White Hart Lane.
A number of fans called for Muamba's number to be retired following the player's decision to leave the game even though it would have been entirely the wrong call. Muamba's circumstances, as tragic and horrifying as they were, certainly did not warrant such a major decision in the grand scheme of football. There have been plenty of Wanderers with longer and more important contributions than what Fabrice provided. The most notable example is perhaps Nat Lofthouse, whose number remains available for selection every year.
Before the shirt was Fan's though, it was Gary Speed's. Speedo was a member of Bolton's golden years and put in a number of performances that helped create an era. Speed spent four years at Bolton and was an immensely important, if not underrated, part the team that Big Sam Allardyce led to Europe. He was a player that will long be fondly remembered by Bolton, Leeds, Newcastle, and Everton fans alike and the one that arguably defined the shirt for Wanderers.
Spearing, already a fan favorite, does not have to go a long way to win the hearts of Bolton fans. He can now push on for something more with the number six on his back.