Chelsea new signing Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed that John Terry thought he was being prank-called when the Senegalese star first called to ask for his iconic number 26 shirt.
The former Napoli defender uploaded a clip to social media this week of a phone call he had with Terry in which he asked the club’s former skipper if he could inherit his old jersey number – which has not been worn since.
While Terry was more than happy for Koulibaly to take on the No.26 mantle, the player’s first attempt to call up the Blues icon did not go to plan after Terry hung up on him.
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Asked if it was a nervous phone call to make and how it came about, Koulibaly said: ‘Yes it is true. I was nervous a bit because I was waiting to sign my contract with Chelsea and it happened the day before, in the night, so I was happy.
‘And the second thing I wanted was to know which numbers were free, and speaking with the team manager he told me some numbers and he didn’t tell me the 26.
‘So I asked him for the 26, but I’d done my research before and I’d seen that John left it in 2017 and nobody took it from that time, so I was a bit asking myself, is it retired? Or maybe nobody wanted to take it.
‘So I asked Gianfranco Zola, who was a player for Chelsea also who I know very well because we have the same person working for our business in Italy.
‘I talked to him, he told me the story of Chelsea, I have to know everything when I come somewhere, so I asked tough questions to him about the club, about the structure, about the supporters.
‘And I asked him for the phone number of John because I wanted to ask for the jersey and he gave me directly the number. And I called him – but at the beginning he did not believe that it was me! He thought that it was a joke!
‘So he put down the phone at first and called the team manager to ask if it was really me. And then after that I asked him respectfully that I wanted to take his jersey, his number. I know that it’s a very important number for him, and for me also because I took it directly when I went to Napoli and I wanted to keep it for here in Chelsea.
‘When he told me yes I was really happy because I know what he did for the club, the supporters, the city here and I know that it’s very important to ask him first before wearing it. I wanted to tell everybody that I asked him before [taking it] because I want to be respectful with a legend in the club.’
He added with a smile: ‘But he put the phone down first! At first he didn’t believe it was me!’