In the second of his brilliant series Kevin Henning traces the history of a personal favourite – the Man City number 28 shirt.

The dawn of the second season of the Premier League saw the arrival of the squad number. Traditionalists were up in arms and wondered what was wrong with a simple 1-11, but clubs were beginning to recognise the endless merchandising opportunities as supporters flocked back to the game sensing the safety of all seater stadiums and were armed with cash to burn. As a teenager of 14, it would be a while before I came to terms with the new numbering system, but once it happened I had a new lucky number for life.

Uwe Rosler
The East German arrived initially for a three month trial in March 1994 and made an immediate impact, back-heeling the ball to assist David Rocastle’s equaliser in a draw at Loftus Road against Q.P.R. City fired three consecutive blanks after this but Uwe’s first goal came in a 2-2 draw at Ipswich as City began to find the form that would save them from relegation. His impact on City fans was enormous. He quickly forged a partnership with fellow new signings Paul Walsh and Peter Beagrie and all three scored in a 3-0 win at home to Villa, 4 days after the Ipswich game. This was followed by another 3 from the German before the end of the season and manager Brian Horton had seen enough to convince him to part with £500,000 to secure Uwe’s permanent transfer from FC Nurnberg.
The City number 28 would go on to be the club’s top scorer in each of the next three seasons, providing some golden moments along the way. 4 goals in a cup replay against Notts County, a goal at St.James Park in the League Cup when City sneaked a 2-0 win despite spending the entire match camped in their own area and a glorious chip over Peter Schmeichel in front of around 15,000 blues at Old Trafford.
Rosler would hit 64 goals during his time at City but it was his commitment and effort that won the fans over. Never displayed more than in a home league match against Sheffield Wednesday where taunted by Owls fans with choruses of the Dambusters theme tune (a reference to Uwe’s nationality) Rosler dragged City back from 2-0 down with a brace to complete a 3-2 win. The celebration in front of the Wednesday fans was inevitable as was the return rendition of the Dambusters chant.
Uwe Rosler became my favourite City player through his goals, drive and shared love with blues. I was lucky enough to meet him twice, once in Manchester nightclub 21 Piccadilly and once in the away fans’ section at Old Trafford before the miserable 5-0 drubbing. Banned from the game, Uwe decided that the best place to take in the match was amongst City fans. That’s the way he was, a City player converted to a fan. He still refers to City as ‘us’ all these years later. He left with all our blessing to return to Germany to play Champions League football for Kaiserslautern but is still revered by blues everywhere and was recently inducted to the club’s Hall of Fame.

Tony Grant
Relegation saw City revert back to traditional 1-11 numbers for 4 season until our return to the Premier League in 2000 under Joe Royle. Known for his “Dogs of War” style whilst in charge of Everton, Big Joe believed that City could fight their way to survival and brought in players who would tackle all day but lacked the finesse needed to open the best defences.
Tony Grant was one of these players. Signed during the promotion season of 99-2000 from Burnley, the ex-Everton man was seen as much needed muscle by Royle but it never really worked out at Maine Road for Grant. 25 appearances were all he managed and 11 of those were from the bench. A Rodney Trotter look-a-like, the fans were glad to see the back of him when Kevin Keegan took the reigns and decided that Tony Grant was surplus to requirements.
The 28 shirt next fell into the hands of a Dutch trialist by the name of Tyrone Loran who signed for City in 2002 from Volendam. He left for Tranmere Rovers a season later without ever managing an appearance.

The occasion got the better of him in the lead up to the game and in his own words he, “Went to the toilet before kick-off and emptied a load.”

Trevor Sinclair
After a couple of disastrous number 28’s, the shirt was passed to a Mancunian, City supporting, England international when Kevin Keegan snapped up Trevor Sinclair from West Ham United. It was a signing that excited all blues and one that was long overdue. City had a chance to sign the player a decade earlier when he left Blackpool for Q.P.R. but the powers that be at the club have had a long history of cocking up the most straightforward transfers.
Trevor Sinclair scored City’s first ever competitive goal at the City of Manchester Stadium against TNS in the UEFA Cup but his most famous moment came in a Manchester derby at the same venue in March 2004. Sinclair started the match on the bench but that didn’t calm the nerves of a local lad playing in the game he’d always dreamt about. The occasion got the better of him in the lead up to the game and in his own words he, “Went to the toilet before kick-off and emptied a load.” However, the Manc winger came on during the second half and scored in a 4-1 City win. The bare-chested celebration as Sinclair “lost all sense of what I was doing” showed that it meant as much to him as any of the fans in the stadium that day.

Injuries limited Sinclair to 82 appearances with his boyhood idols though, before he was released to join Cardiff City in 2007, vacating the 28 shirt which was passed onto….

Gelson Fernandes
One of a number of players brought in as part of Sven’s revolution, this young Swiss midfielder signed from Sion was an unknown quantity in English football. After arriving in 2007, Fernandes made 59 appearances for City scoring 4 goals along the way. A midfielder with a big engine, Fernandes often filled in in other positions including right back but will be remembered by a lot of blues as the player for whom the phrase “Headless Chicken” could have been invented. Despite staying at City for two season, Gelson only held the number 28 shirt for one campaign before taking up number 19 and passing his old shirt to a rising star from the club’s youth ranks.

Daniel Sturridge
The nephew of Derby County’s Dean, Daniel Sturridge joined City’s youth set up at the age of 13 from Coventry City. He came to City fans’ collective attention as part of the team that were runners up to Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup. The following season, Sturridge made sporadic appearances for the first team and scored his first senior goal in an FA Cup defeat at Sheffield United. He returned to play for the youth team as they returned to the FA Youth Cup final and beat Chelsea.
City had an extremely talented youngster wearing the 28 shirt but rumours were circulating that Sturridge had a high opinion of himself. He started to appear more under Mark Hughes’ reign but Leslie’s preference of anything Welsh saw Ched Evans ahead of Sturridge in the pecking order and cracks began to show. Contract talks stalled and it became obvious that the young striker was looking to leave the club. He upset the majority of City fans when refusing to celebrate his goal in a league match against West Brom and the writing was on the wall for his exit to Chelsea.
Highlights from his City career include a sublime, cross field, daisy cutter assist for Robinho to equalise at Ewood Park after Rovers had led City 2-0 at one stage.
Sturridge it seems, needs to realise that only through hard work and a positive attitude does a player reach the top and the penny may finally have dropped. He is widely tipped to make the England squad for next year’s European Championships.

Kolo Toure
A member of Arsenal’s invincible team, Kolo Toure joined Emmanuel Adebayor in joining the blue revolution in 2009 and was immediately handed both the captain’s armband and the City number 28 shirt. A bumpy first season was followed by a season full of ups and downs for the Ivorian. First of all, his brother Yaya signed for City from Barcelona, next Kolo was replaced as club captain by Carlos Tevez. He retained his place in the team though and began to form a partnership with Vincent Kompany. A red card against Everton was quickly forgotten when Toure scored the opener in a thrilling 4-3 victory over Wolves, a game in which his brother Yaya also scored and City climbed to the top of the Premier League.
Kolo’s season was ended soon afterwards though when he failed a random drugs test and was suspended for 6 months. A return in September of this year saw Toure resume his City career although many fans questioned the wisdom of allowing a clearly rusty defender to begin a match in the Champions League away to Bayern Munich.

So there we have it, my favourite City shirt has been worn by a local talent, a cult hero, a cart-horse and a drug cheat. Not to mention big headed, youth player, a headless chicken and a Dutch player that no-one ever got to see. It has been part of many magical moments and hopefully, will adorn the back of a few legends of the future.