Many Chelsea fans think there is a curse on the number 9 shirt because of its recent history but if you look further back, beyond the Radamel Falcao’s and the Hernan Crespo’s, you do find some players who have made the shirt their own. New signing Alvaro Morata is due to take the vacant number 9 at Chelsea so, who proceeded him in this so-called cursed jersey?
We go back to 1964 and a young Peter Osgood made his debut for Chelsea in the League Cup against Workington, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win for the Blues. That seventeen-year-old went on to make over 300 league appearances for Chelsea over 2 spells spanning a total of 11 years. Osgood was, and still is, a true Chelsea legend and sits 5th on the all-time record goal scorer list at the club with 150 goals in all competitions. The striker won 2 major trophies during his time in West London; an FA Cup, the first in the club’s history, and a Cup Winner’s Cup. Osgood scored in the replay of the 1970 FA Cup Final as Chelsea beat Leeds 2-1 at Old Trafford. The Cup Winner’s Cup triumph came against Real Madrid and Osgood scored in both the original final and the replay as the Blues won the trophy for the first time. He returned to Chelsea in 1978 and retired a year later.
At the start of this century it was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who claimed the number 9 shirt and he had similar fortunes as Osgood. Despite not winning any silverware at Chelsea other than one Community Shield, he is regarded as one of the best strikers in the club’s history with 70 goals in 136 games in the league – that’s more than 1 for every 2 games. He arrived in the year 2000 for a club record £15m from Atletico Madrid and he repayed his fee in the years to come; he was Chelsea’s top scorer in 3 of the 4 seasons his spent at the club but left with Claudio Ranieri to make way for Jose Mourinho and his choice of strikers.
Hernan Crespo was less of a success at Stamford Bridge and only managed 49 league appearances over 5 years, mainly due to being sent on loan and a certain man called Didier Drogba. The Argentine forward was recalled in the summer of 2005 after being on loan at AC Milan because Mourinho felt he needed more than one striker at the club. Crespo’s best moment in a Chelsea shirt came against Wigan in the first league game of Chelsea’s title winning season in 2005/06 as he netted a curler from 25 yards in stoppage time to win the game against Wigan. On the way to the title he scored 10 goals as Chelsea won their second title in as many years under Mourinho. He was sent out on loan for the next 2 years and eventually left the club in 2008 with a total of 20 league goals to his name.
After being held by Steve Sidwell and Franco Di Santo, the number 9 shirt made its way to a household name in 2011 when Fernando Torres joined Chelsea for a club record £50m from Liverpool. Unlike a couple on this list, Torres’s contribution in a Chelsea shirt was not value for money. The Spaniard could only manage 20 goals in 110 league games and was second-fiddle to Didier Drogba for most of his time at the club. Outside of England though he shone in the team, scoring important goals in both European competitions. That includes an infamous goal at the Nou Camp where he ran half the length of the pitch alone before rounding Victor Valdes and finishing to confirm Chelsea’s place in the Champions League final in 2012. He won the corner that led to the Drogba’s equaliser in that game and also scored a year later in the Europa League final in Amsterdam. Despite his success on the continent, Torres will always be remembered for his poor scoring record in the league and THAT miss at Old Trafford.
As you can see there have been mixed fortunes for players holding the blue number 9 shirt, whether it be Osgood’s 150 goals or Radamel Falcao’s 1. I think I’d know who I’d want to replicate if I were Alvaro Morata.