What's in a jersey number? Ultimately, it's just a...digit? Ask this question to a sports fan, and they will tell you why exactly it's so important.

When someone steps on to the field wearing a certain number, and makes you proud time and again, it becomes something emotional for you to hold on to

Sachin Tendulkar's jersey 10, for instance.

sachin jersey 10
Source: The Economic Times

And Dhoni's 7, which he chose because his birthday falls on the same date in July.

As an ardent fan of Dhoni and a self-proclaimed lover, I can't imagine anyone else wearing jersey 7 in the Indian cricket team.

It just doesn't sit right with me.

Jersey 7 has given me moments to cherish, ones that can never be replaced. And I want to keep it that way. 

I want to keep the memory of Mahi uprooting the stumps while wearing that jersey.

Dhoni jersey 7
Source: The Indian Express

I want to keep the memory of him going against his nature and getting excited in that jersey. 

Dhoni jersey 7
Source: Bangalore Mirror

I want to keep the memory of him hitting the final 6 in the 2011 World Cup, in that jersey.

dhoni jersey 7
Source: YouTube/ Cricket World

So to think that someone else will step on to the field wearing the same, is a bit unsettling.

And this is not to say that India will never see a talent like Mahi again. In strictly technical terms, there is no reason to believe that someone won't come and repeat the magic. 

However, when it comes to jersey 7, it's more about emotions than technical stuff. 

Yes, maybe they will do the exact same things, or even more. But this is where you start associating personal feelings with an event. 

On April 28, 2007, Dhoni sent Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over to Pakistan in the maiden World T20 final.

And their batsman Misbah-ul-Haq allowed emotions to get the better of him. He sent the ball flying, and was caught out by a carefully-placed Sreesanth.

You can count on fingers the number of times MS Dhoni let his emotions show like that on the field. In all 16 years of his career.

At that time, he was wearing number 7 jersey.

So, it goes beyond practical stuff, and in many ways, even victory and losses. Jersey 7 was Dhoni's, and Dhoni, ours. 

And now with his retirement, for me the jersey has retired too. 

7
Dhoni ... always!