Club Wembley Number Nine: The perfect balance between luxury and intimacy
When Gusztav Sebes’ legendary Hungary side delivered a 6-3 thrashing of England in 1953, the first victory of any foreign national team at Wembley Stadium, they not only battered their hosts but left them so bamboozled the English press felt the need to explain the mystifying arrangement of shirt numbers among the visiting players.
Rather than adhering to the strict pattern of the back three wearing two, five, three right to left, Hungary lined up with a more logical array of two, three and four. At a time when the number on your back strictly denoted your position on the pitch in the English game, it left both players and fans scratching their heads. However, the key figure on that November afternoon was draped in a familiar digit.
Nandor Hidegkuti, Hungary’s ephemeral number nine, wreaked havoc dropping into midfield, rattling in a hat-trick as he enjoyed the freedom of Wembley with England’s defenders utterly unsure of how to combat his wandering.
Despite completely reimagining the role of a traditional striker, even Hungary’s futuristic football didn’t dare tamper with the sacrosanct number nine shirt, always to be wore by the team’s chief goal threat.
Seven decades on, England have their own number nine whose mastery of the position grants him an omnipresence in midfield and attack.
Ghosting in at the back post, Harry Kane bundled in his 55th international goal against Ukraine in England’s first game at Wembley since the Qatar World Cup. 51 of Kane’s record-breaking tally have come while wearing that iconic number nine jersey - more than any other individual in the history of the national team.
There could be no more fitting place to watch Kane’s first game on English soil as his nation’s all-time top scorer, confirmation of his status as the country’s greatest number nine, than from Club Wembley’s Number Nine suite.
In fact, any occasion at Wembley would be immeasurably enhanced by a trip to a lounge which strikes the perfect balance between luxury and intimacy.
Enjoy a mouth-watering bounty of varied cuisine from stations dotted around a sprawling atrium, all sleek metal and glistening crystal. The only risk is getting side-tracked by the dessert station on your way to the roast freshly sliced by the attentive chefs - although, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski has become one of the greatest number nines in the world eating sweet before savoury, so there’s your excuse.
Yet, there’s little explanation needed for the doting wait staff. Any one individual is only responsible for a handful of diners but the smiling, apron-clad figures scarcely clutter the room, drifting out of sight before striding into view, with a smile, as soon as the thought of placing an order crosses your mind.
The gentle notes of a live performance float over the lavish setting suitable for business or pleasure, clients or children, providing a sense of calm before the crashing limbs on the turf which lies just a handful of paces away. Adjacent to the royal box, practically level with the halfway line, you have the perfect view to take in the full scale of the grand cathedral that is the modern Wembley Stadium while being low enough to decipher the curl of the number nine on Kane’s pristine slip of white.
As gripping as the game can be, you would not be alone if your mind began to drift to the treats that await in Number Nine during the half-time interval - which feels far too short at just 15 minutes. At the full-time whistle, there’s ample opportunity to return to the suite’s warm embrace and dissect the display or delight in the post-match delicacies.
Enzo Ferrari, the icon of motor sport, once opined: “Ask a child to draw a car, and certainly he will draw it red.” If you were to ask a child to draw an England shirt, they would surely scrawl a number nine on the back.
It would be beyond most children to sketch up a setting of such finely balanced elegance and entertainment as Club Wembley’s Number Nine lounge. But you can bet that anyone from a kid to a colleague would cherish the unique experience.
Club Wembley is the only way to guarantee premium seating and hospitality packages at Wembley Stadium.
Enquire at https://www.clubwembley.com/membership/number-nine