Number 13 is considered the unluckiest number of them all but for some of these players it’s the opposition who have been unlucky in facing them. Current holder of the shirt is Thibaut Courtois and he follows a varied list, in terms of success, of number 13’s down the years.
Let’s go back 29 years to 1988 where Kevin Hitchcock, once of the club’s youth set-up, signed for Chelsea from Mansfield for £250,000. He spent 13 years at the club but only managed 96 league cup appearances in goal for the Blues (that’s an average of about 7 a season) because of injury. The injuries he sustained meant that he couldn’t hold onto a starting place in goal and fell behind keepers such as Dmitri Kharine and Ed de Goey. He spent a couple of seasons out on loan but could never establish himself at Chelsea and so he left the club in 2001 with no. 13 an unlucky number for him.
After his departure, Claudio Ranieri signed William Gallas for £6.2m from Marseille. The centre-back chose the number 13 shirt because that was his postcode back in Marseille – fun fact of the day there for you. Gallas started off behind Marcel Desailly and John Terry but formed solid partnerships with both of them during his time at the club. He played a huge part in Chelsea’s title wins in 2004/05 and 2005/06 under Jose Mourinho despite not being a regular at centre-back. He filled-in at left-back quite often and scored important goals against Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United in his last season at the club as Chelsea retained their Premier League title with a whopping 95 points.
Michael Ballack joined Chelsea in 2006 after an impressive spell with Bayern Munich and went on to have more success at Chelsea with the number 13 shirt on his back, a number he had worn throughout his illustrious career. During his 4 year spell with the club, Ballack won the Premier League title, 3 FA Cups and a League Cup. His best game in Chelsea blue came against Manchester United in 2008 as both clubs were in a 2 horse race for the title. He scored both goals in a 2-1 over the Red Devils to bring Chelsea level on points with United with 2 league games to go. The German’s last game for Chelsea came in the FA Cup final at Wembley against Portsmouth but he was forced off with injury and missed the 2010 World Cup as a result but he still won one final medal in blue.
In recent years, the number 13 shirt has made its way to Thibaut Courtois via Victor Moses and the Belgian keeper has been a driving force that has helped Chelsea win 2 Premier League titles in 3 years. He displaced Petr Cech in goal at the start of the 2014/15 season after spending 3 years on loan at Atletico Madrid and has not looked back since. Courtois kept 6 clean sheets in a row during the 2016/17 title winning season which made up the first half of Chelsea’s 13 match winning run. As well as 2 Premier League titles, Courtois has a League Cup to his name but he will be looking to add to that in the coming years, possibly under the number 1 jersey that almost all first-choice keepers wear.