I SUPPOSE anywhere in life, numbers are crucially important.

They crop up particularly in football, whether it is how many are at the ground for the game, how many players are in a squad etcetera.

What made me think of this was when I saw Phil Jagielka, the ex-England defender, had scored for Stoke City against his former club Sheffield United.

But it was his age that made me blink… He is 40 years old!

It made me cast my mind back to some of the senior players I had in my squad at Saints like Alan Ball, Mick Channon and Peter Osgood – how long did they carry on playing at their oldest when I was able to sign them?

I certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford them when they were younger and in full flight, playing internationals.

It does seem that goalkeepers play the longest, I mean they don’t have the running around as much as outfield players.

Gianluigi Buffon over in Italy is still playing for Parma at the age of 44, the other numbers next to his name are 176 caps for his country and so far, 959 senior games. He is obviously heading for the 1,000 club.

Among the other famous internationals I brought to The Dell was Peter Shilton, who stands out when we are talking about numbers.

Before he joined us, he was playing for Leicester City and, would you believe they won 5-1 at The Dell and he scored one of the goals! With a strong wind behind him, he kicked it out and with one bounce it went over our goalkeeper’s head.

He never let me forget that when he joined us.

Would you believe he was still playing at 47 years old? He finished with a handful of games at Leyton Orient to take him over the 1,000-mark. He had 125 caps for England.

This of course has carried on as Saints have got their own veteran goalkeeper in today’s squad with Willy Caballero at 41 years of age.

While he is not playing in the first-team games so much, he will undoubtedly be a great asset to the management and coaching side, with helping youngsters in training sessions and in the dressing room using all his experience.

Arguably the biggest number of all this week has been 700 – the amount of club goals reached by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Those have come across 450 for Real Madrid, 144 for Manchester United, 101 for Juventus and five for Sporting Lisbon.

I well remember his arrival in England in 2003. I got a call from Alex Ferguson asking me to come and meet him – Alex was in the Southampton area with Manchester United and him and I went back a while.

We spent a good hour or so, catching up, reminiscing and putting the world to rights when a player he had just signed turned up.

At first, I couldn’t believe his hairstyle! When Alex introduced him, he sort of bowed and scraped to me.

Alex explained this was Cristiano Ronaldo. He more or less stood to attention to us and I was delighted to be able to join them.

Because of our initial meeting, I have followed his career over the years ever since.

He has altered his unbelievable hairstyle he had on arrival – that must have helped, with a fair few headed goals coming from the 700 he has scored so far!