Chelsea players avoid ‘cursed’ number 9 jersey

Koulibaly respectfully wears John Terry's jersey

By Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor

Like a plague that everyone abhors, Chelsea attackers have refused to wear the number 9 shirt with the assumption that it is cursed.

Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao and Mateja Kezman were all among the players who wore the number 9 shirt but could not perform to their peak as expected by the club.

The latest player to be allotted the infamous number was £97.5m Romelu Lukaku whose lacklustre season only saw the Belgian netting 8 goals in 25 Premier League appearances.

Following his exit on a season-long loan to Inter Milan, having failed to replicate the same feat that endeared him into the hearts of the Nerazzurri in Stamford Bridge last season, none of Chelsea’s players has considered taking the number for fear of being overwhelmed by a sombre presage.

However, Thomas Tuchel said no one at the club has demanded to be allotted the number 9 because they claimed it is cursed.

“It’s cursed. People tell me it’s cursed. It’s not the case that we leave it open for reasons or for some players in the pipeline that naturally could come and take it,” Tuchel said.

“There was not a big demand for number 9, and sometimes players want to change numbers but surprisingly no one wants to touch it.

“Everyone who is here longer than me in the club tells me, ‘Ah you know, he had the number 9 and he did not score and he also had the number 9 and he did not score.

“Now we have a moment where no one wants to touch the number 9,” the Chelsea manager added.

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Meanwhile, Kalidou Koulibaly has sought John Terry’s permission to wear the number 26 jersey.

Koulibaly said that was the same number he wore while in Napoli and decided to wear it in Stamford Bridge.

He added that he is abreast with what John Terry did for the club and city and knows how important the number is to him.

“I called him [John Terry] at the beginning but he didn’t believe it was me thinking it was a joke,” Koulibaly said.

“He [John Terry] called the club manager to confirm if it was truly me. When he finally responded I asked him respectfully I wanted his jersey’s number and I know how important the number is to him and also for me because I took it directly when I went to Napoli and I wanted to keep it here in Chelsea.

“When he told me yes, I was happy because I know what he did for the supporters and the city here,” he acknowledged.

Relatively, Tammy Abraham was able to record an average success with the number under Frank Lampard, scoring 15 goals in 34 games.

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