"The number 7 is said to be the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth. The 7 doesn't take anything at face value. It is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusion” Numerologist, Hans Decoz
Pythagoras taught that seven was ‘the perfect number’ and is considered lucky in many faiths and cultures around the world.
This may explain our affinity with the number, as a recent survey by myfavouritenumbers.net asking over 30,000 people around the world what their favourite number was, 10% answered the number 7.
The number 7 in football is traditionally worn by the right winger, but at Middlesbrough some of the greatest players to wear the number 7 shirt, have also been defensive midfielders and strikers.
Here we go through seven great number 7s, to have worn the Middlesbrough shirt.
NUMBER SEVEN: TERRY COCHRANE
Terry Cochrane become First Division Boro's record signing in October 1978, when manager John Neal paid Burnley £238,000, for the exciting winger.
Cochrane who immediately took the number 7 shirt, helped Boro to victory in his first three games, scoring one goal.
The tricky Irish winger was a favourite with the Boro supporters and had his best season with the club in 1979-80, achieving 9th place in the First Division, scoring three goals.
Cochrane, who is best remembered for his spectacular overhead kick in the FA Cup 3rd round, away to Swansea in a 5-0 victory, in January 1981, also gained 19 caps for Northern Ireland while at Boro.
Fans favourite Cochrane appeared 113 times for Boro between 1978-1983, scoring 12 goals before departing for Gillingham on a free transfer in October 1983.
NUMBER SIX: RALPH BIRKETT
Middlesbrough signed winger Ralph Birkett from Arsenal for £5,900 in March 1935. The flying winger scored four goals in 7 appearances, helping Boro survive relegation from the First Division, by one point.
Making his debut wearing the number 7 shirt, which Birkett would continue to wear for another three seasons while at Ayresome Park, the tricky winger become an instant crowd favourite.
Birkett was part of an extremely entertaining 1930’s pre-war Boro side, reeking havoc and creating chances for strikers George Camsell, Benny Yorston, Tom Cochrane and Micky Fenton.
His first full season in a Boro shirt, Birkett finished with 26 goals, only beaten by the prolific Camsell who scored 32 in all appearances, finishing top scorer for 1935-36.
Birkett scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 thrashing of Everton at Ayresome Park, also scoring in the wins over Preston 5-0, Aston Villa 7-2, Blackburn 6-1, Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 and the mauling of eventual champions Sunderland 6-0.
Birkett went on to make 101 appearances for Boro between 1935-1938, all but four in the number 7 shirt, scoring 40 goals, before being sold to Second Division Newcastle United for £6,000, in July 1938.
Boro fans were said to be, surprised and dismayed, at losing their exciting number 7, who also gained one England cap, while playing for the club.
NUMBER FIVE: GRANT LEADBITTER
Grant Leadbitter signed for Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough, as a free agent in the summer of 2012, after leaving fellow Championship side Ipswich Town.
The former Sunderland midfielder who started out at his hometown club, took the number 7 shirt on joining rivals Middlesbrough. He was named 2013 supporters player of the season, in his first season at The Riverside.
Leadbitter was eventually installed as Captain, by new manager Aitor Karanka, who replaced Tony Mowbray in November 2013.
The inspiring, tough tackling midfielder made 51 appearances, scoring 13 goals, helping Middlesbrough achieve a 4th place finish in 2014-15, where they lost to Norwich City in the Play-off Final, at Wembley.
The following season saw Leadbitter lead Boro to automatic promotion, beating fellow promotion rivals Brighton Hove Albion to second place on the final day of the 2015-16 season, following a 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium.
Recovery from a summer hernia operation delayed Leadbitter's return to the Premier League with Boro, where he would go on to make 17 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals. Despite the Captain’s efforts, Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Grant Leadbitter 2012 - present
NUMBER FOUR: BOBBY MURDOCH
Bobby Murdoch become Jack Charltons first signing, when he joined second division Middlesbrough, from Celtic on a free transfer in 1973.
The 29 year old midfield schemer, who was a member of the Lisbon Lions, the famous Celtic side who lifted the European Cup in 1967, joined Boro looking for a new challenge, after winning eight scottish titles in a row.
Wearing the number 7 shirt, Murdoch scored on his home debut in a 2-0 win over Bristol City
and was a virtual ever present alongside a young Graeme Souness in Midfield, during Boros 73-74 promotion season.
Murdoch went on to make 144 appearances for Boro scoring 7 goals, in his three seasons at Ayresome Park before taking over as youth team coach upon retirement in 1976, then taking over as manager for the 1981-82 season.
Jack Charlton said "Bobby was an amazing passer of a ball who could drop a ball on a sixpence from any distance and, although I've had players who covered more ground, I never worked with anyone who could strike the ball as well as he could."
Bobby Murdoch 1973-1976
NUMBER THREE: LINDY DELAPENHA
Following a £12,000 move from First Division Champions Portsmouth to Middlesbrough, Lindy Delapenha made his debut in the last game of the 1949-50 season, wearing the number 8 shirt.
Jamaican born Delapenha became a regular in the Boro side during the 1950-51 season, becoming a crowd favourite with supporters. Although he made the odd appearance wearing the number 8 or 11 shirt, the Boro number 7 shirt belonged to Lindy, throughout the 1950’s.
Delapenha known as Spot Kick King at Boro, once famously smashed a penalty so hard it burst the net, in a home game with Sunderland, in October 1957.
The Right winger made 270 appearances for Boro, between 1950-1958, scoring 93 goals. His goals to game ratio was 0.34. and he was the clubs top scorer for three seasons.
During the nine seasons Delapenha played for Boro, he played with such greats as Wilf Mannion and Brian Clough in the Boro forward line.
Lindy Delapenha 1950-1958
NUMBER TWO: GEORGE BOATENG
Following the collapse of a move to Liverpool, Middlesbrough signed Ghanian born Dutch International George Boateng, from Aston Villa, for £5m in the summer of 2002.
The classy defensive Midfielder, went on to be part of the first Middlesbrough team to lift a major trophy, beating Bolton in the League Cup Final, in 2004, at the Millennium Stadium.
He also helped Boro achieve their highest top flight finish in 30 years, finishing 7th in the Premier League in 2004-05.
Tough Tackling Boateng who was a favourite with the Riverside crowd, played a major part in two UEFA Cup Campaigns, losing the Final in Eindhoven against Seville in 2006.
Boro Captain George Boateng also won four International caps for the Netherlands, while playing for Boro.
Boateng appeared 182 times in the Boro number 7 shirt, scoring 7 goals between 2002-2008, before moving to Hull City.
George Boateng 2002-2008
NUMBER ONE: BERNIE SLAVEN
The most iconic player to wear the number 7 shirt for Middlesbrough Football Club is undoubtedly, Scottish born striker, Bernie Slaven.
After writing to every club in England’s top two Divisions, the prolific Slaven, signed for Willie Maddren's Second Division strugglers, in a deal worth £25,000, from Albion Rovers in October 1985.
He went from wearing the number 9 shirt, for his first 19 appearances, before switching to his favoured number 7 shirt, worn by his hero Kenny Dalglish, in March 1986, which he continued to wear throughout his Boro career.
Slaven went on to be an integral part of three promotion teams including the now famous ‘Class of 86’ team, who achieved back to back promotions from the third to the first division, under the guidance of manager Bruce Rioch, after the club was liquidated and forced to train in local parks.
Slaven was also part of the first ever Boro team to play at Wembley, when they reached the ZDS Cup Final in March 1990. Later that year Slaven was part of the Republic of Ireland squad who went to the World Cup in Italy, going out to the hosts in the Quarter Finals.
He was the clubs top scorer in all competitions between 1986-1991 and goes down as the 6th highest goalscorer in the clubs history with an incredible 147 goals in 382 appearances and six hat tricks in a Boro shirt.
Without doubt Bernie Slaven is the clubs most famous number 7, and is still the last Boro player to score 20 league goals in a season.
Bernie Slaven 1985-1993