So now it is suggested he give it to Newcastle's No 19 - Demba Ba - because he has worked so hard to get it.
Demba Ba has scored 11 goals so far this season
Newcastle No 9 - made famous by the likes of Jackie Milburn and Alan Shearer in yesteryear - has been vacant since Andy Carroll made his £35million switch to Liverpool last January.
Alan Pardew: 'If I knew he’d perform to that level he would have got the No 9 shirt.
'I think Demba Ba’s all-round ability in terms of goals and everything he has given us has been a real big bonus this year.
'On Saturday [in the 0-0 draw with Swansea] a couple of things he did were exceptional, even though we didn’t score.
'We have a real talent there and we will miss him for the African Cup of Nations in mid January.
'It’s been a fantastic year.
'It’s more than I could have hoped for in terms of where we are.
'You know people will look at our recent run and they don’t actually look at the bigger picture.
'We’re in a fantastic position in the league, we’re still got some good games coming up and it’s all there for us. We’re just rolling on.
'We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be, for sure.
'We didn’t think we’d be in this position. When you’re lying second in the league like we were, with the budget we’ve got, to try and stay there is totally unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to aim for those heights.
'We want to keep up there in sixth or seventh.'