The return of the number '9'

13th February

Call me old fashioned but I really got a kick out of seeing a centre-forward running out for the Swans with the number nine on his back.
The shirt has been vacant since Michu left the Swans' line-up, although it's fair to say he wasn't a traditional number nine despite the number of goals he racked up.
Since the Swans have been in the Premier League, the main striker has tended to wear the number 10 shirt - Danny Graham and Wilfried Bony - or the number 18, Bafetimbi Gomis.
Perhaps the last genuine out-and-out striker to pull on the number nine shirt for the Swans was Craig Beattie.
With today's squad systems, there's no telling what number a team's main striker will have on his back these days.
In footballing terms, I was brought up in the '70s and '80s when the likes of Malcolm McDonald, Cyrille Regis and Ian Rush ruled the roost up front with a big number nine on their backs.
The sense of nostalgia at seeing Alberto Paloschi wearing the traditional centre forward's number last Saturday was heightened by the fact that one of Britain's most fearsome number nines was sitting just a couple of seats away from me at the Liberty Stadium.
Now as a Welsh football fan, Joe Jordan isn't a name that trips easily from my fingers when I sit down at a keyboard. To have him sitting in such close proximity last Saturday was a little uncomfortable.
I'm still scarred by the "hand" he played in Wales's failure to qualify for the 1978 World Cup. But perhaps now, with Wales finally having qualified again for a major tournament, it's time to let bygones be bygones and admit I was a huge admirer of the Scottish striker - before that fateful night.
Big Joe was an absolutely awesome sight during his prime, and he still carried an intimidating aura as he sat in the stand scribbling notes onto a team sheet at the Swans v Palace match, which may explain why I didn't raise the controversial Anfield moment all those years ago.
In his pomp with Leeds, Manchester United and Milan, Jordan was an absolute nightmare for defenders, combining, commitment, bravery and aggression with no little amount of skill.
My favourite picture of Jordan is of him celebrating a goal, arms aloft and letting out what I can only imagine would have been a bloodcurdling yell, exposing the gap, where his front teeth would once have lived, which gave him his 'Jaws' nickname.
Saints fans will remember Jordan during the latter part of his career when he returned to England after his spell in Italy.
Arriving at the Dell in 1984, he scored 12 goals in 48 appearances before moving on to Bristol City, where he became player-manager.
When Jordan left Southampton in 1987, he was followed into the first team the following year by the most prolific number nine of the Premier League era.
Shearer burst onto the scene at Southampton, banging in a hat-trick against Arsenal on his full debut.
His exploits on the South Coast earned him a big money move to Blackburn, where his career really took off, scoring 112 goals in just 138 games.
A record transfer fee saw him join boyhood idols Newcastle United - a club at which number nines are traditionally worshipped, including Hughie Gallagher, Jackie Milburn, Wyn Davies, Andy Cole and Les Ferdinand.
At Newcastle, Shearer plundered another 148 goals in 303 games, showing all the attributes of a traditional number nine.
Perhaps the most famous number nine to play for the Swans only wore the shirt on a handful of occasions.
When the Swans last played in the top flight back in the early 1980s, their centre-forward was Bob Latchford, who had worn the number nine shirt with great distinction for England and Everton - the club whose first-ever number nine was the legendary Dixie Dean.
But for the Swans, Latchford generally wore the number 11 shirt, while the number nine was usually worn by left winger Leighton James.
And the greatest number nine to hail from Swansea never played a first-team match for the club.
John Charles was spirited away from the city to Leeds United as a youngster. Equally comfortable with a number five on his back as a number nine, Charles really made his name as a great centre-forward at Juventus.
In 1997 he was voted Serie A's greatest ever foreign import, ahead of Maradona, Michel Platini and Marco Van Basten.
Although Italy have imported some great British number nines like Jordan, Rush and Charles, the nation has produced its fair share of brilliant strikers, such as Gigi Riva, Roberto Bettega, Paolo Rossi, Toto Schillaci, Luca Toni and Christian Vieri.
If Alberto Paloschi can follow in the footsteps of some of the players mentioned above, Swans fans will be on cloud number nine!
C'mon you Swans!