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Smeltz to wear jersey No.99 for Phoenix

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/12/2016

What to do when your favourite jersey number is taken?

If you're Shane Smeltz, you double up.

The veteran striker has been cleared by A-League bosses to wear No.99 when he returns to the Wellington Phoenix this week.

Smeltz has become attached to the No.9 shirt adorned by centre forwards worldwide.

However, that number is claimed already this season by another Phoenix returnee, Kosta Barbarouses.

In an A-League first, Smeltz has been granted permission to wear the lofty number by league bosses Football Federation Australia.

"I started off at the Phoenix with No. 9 on my back and it is only fitting that I have two nines this time," he said.

"I like the look of it."

The most notable player to don No.99 in soccer is Brazilian great Ronaldo, who did so late in his career for AC Milan 10 years ago.

World sport's most famous 99 jersey was worn by ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

The NHL has retired his number league-wide, making him the only player to receive the honour.

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