Charming footage has emerged of new Chelsea signing Kalidou Koulibaly asking John Terry for his permission to wear the No26 shirt.
Terry wore the number for the entirety of his 19-year stint at Stamford Bridge and because it had been left unassigned since the former England skipper left the club in 2017, many Blues fans presumed it had been retired – like Gianfranco Zola’s famous No25 shirt.
But Koulibaly, who wore the shirt at Napoli, has now been confirmed as Chelsea’s new No26, though he only took it because he got the green light from Terry himself over the phone.
“John, I wanted to ask you something. Like you know I played with the 26 in Napoli, and I’ve seen that since you left the club nobody has taken it,” the 31-year-old tells Terry in a video clip he uploaded to social media on Monday.
“I don’t know if you’ve retired it or if nobody wants to take it, so I wanted to ask you if it’s possible for me to take it.”
Terry replies: “Mate, I really appreciate you calling. Listen, the 26 was very special to me, but it’s no problem for me for you to take it.
“So, [it would be my] absolute pleasure and I wish you all the best because I know how important that number was to me,” the 41-year-old adds.
Koulibaly extends his gratitude before admitting: “It will be a heavy shirt, but I will try to do my best.”
The Senegal defender became Chelsea’s second signing of the summer, following Raheem Sterling through the door for a fee of around £31million, though Blues boss Thomas Tuchel is still keen for more defensive reinforcements following the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, and with both Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso heavily linked with moves away.
It’s understood the club have made approaches for both Leicester’s Wesley Fofana and Brighton’s Marc Cucurella over the past few days, while RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol is also of interest.