To commemorate a 5th Premier League title that was won by Chelsea last season, I look at the history of players who have worn the number 5 in the club’s recent history. The current use of number 5 is uncertain with Kurt Zouma being linked with moves elsewhere but there have been some real stalwarts over the years.
We start in December 1989 before the Premier League even existed and Chelsea were an inconsistent mid-table side who rarely challenged for the title. Norwegian centre-back, Erland Johnsen joined the Blues from Bayern Munich and made 145 league appearances at the club during his 8 year stay. During his time, Johnsen won the club’s player of the year award in 1995 and then the FA Cup in 1997. Johnsen played in the 1994 FA Cup final loss to Manchester United but wasn’t in the squad when Chelsea actually lifted the cup 3 years later. He left that summer with just one goal to his name but Johnsen was a key part in a stable period in the club’s history.
After Johnsen’s departure, Chelsea signed Frank Lebouf from Strasbourg for £2.5m. The French centre-back took the number 5 shirt and went on to play over 200 games for the club and contributed with over 20 goals. Despite being a centre-half, Lebouf was Chelsea’s regular penalty taker and that’s where he got his impressive goal tally from. During his career at Chelsea, he missed only 3 times from the spot. Lebouf was in the side that won the 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup, the 1998 League Cup and the 2000 FA Cup. Despite being only 6 foot, Lebouf was an assured defender who had success on the global stage with France – winning both the World Cup and the Euros with his country.
It wasn’t until 2005 until Chelsea fans found a number 5 they could really get behind. The combative Ghanaian midfielder, Michael Essien, wore the number 5 shirt for almost a decade and was a key figure during the club’s golden era of success. He joined the Blues after they had won their first league title in 50 years and, after a successful year with the club – winning the league again, he was nominated for the Ballon D’Or. His most famous moment in Chelsea blue came against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in 2007. The Ghanaian ran onto a lose ball and struck it with the outside of his foot and it nestled in the far side of the goal. The goal came late into the game where Chelsea had been trailing so it was a vitally important goal. Essien won Player of the Year at Chelsea that season and went on to win other honours such as the Champions League during his spell in West London. He left in 2014 after persistent injury problems but will always be remembered for that wonder strike against Arsenal.