After calling club legend John Terry for permission to use his famous shirt number, new Chelsea signing Kalidou Koulibaly has already earned the respect of fans.
The 31-year-old defender, who joined the Blues from Serie A side Napoli for around £33 million this summer, will wear the number 26 this season.
But, before the club confirmed the shirt number, Koulibaly wanted to confirm it with John Terry.
Terry, Chelsea’s most successful captain with 15 major honours, made 717 appearances for the club while wearing the iconic number 26.
In a phone call to the former England centre-back on July 15th, 2022, the Senegal international said the following:
"John, I wanted to ask you something because, as you know, I played with the 26 in Napoli, and I see that nobody has taken the 26 since you left the club." I'm not sure if you retired it or if no one wants to take it, but I was wondering if it was possible to take it. Terry responded right away. "Listen," he said, "the 26 was very special to me." "Yeah, mate, I really appreciate your call, and it's no problem for me if you take it. It's an absolute pleasure." I wish you well because I know how important the number was to me, and I've obviously seen you wear the number 26 as well, so it's my pleasure mate, I give you the 26. Terry replied, "No pressure mate, you're going to be winning trophies for us, okay?" After a grateful Koulibaly said it would be a "heavy" shirt to play in, Both men have a sense of style. Former Chelsea captain Terry revealed in 2019 that he wore the number 26 throughout his career so fans wouldn't have to buy another shirt.
“That was my number when I broke into the first team at Chelsea, and I’d seen some fans with my name and number on their shirts,” Terry wrote on Instagram.
“I didn’t want them to have to pay for another shirt.”
Jorginho, a Chelsea midfielder, has also weighed in on Koulibaly’s decision to wear the famous shirt number.
“I believe Kalidou will realize the significance of the shirt number even more over time,” he predicted. “He will also bring with him respect for that number, demonstrating respect and worth.”
The Italian also confirmed that he had previously discussed a move to Stamford Bridge with his former Napoli teammate.
“As a joke, we used to say, ‘Let’s play together again, let’s play together again.’ It never happened properly, and when we realized it wasn’t a joke anymore, we became more serious about it.
“I shoved!” Come on, come to Chelsea, I said. And he said, “Ah, yeah, I’d like to.” I said ‘just come,’ because it’s been a long time since we’ve played together, shared a locker room, or been together.”