John Terry thought Koulibaly's 'courtesy call' was a prank call

Wed 03 August 2022 | 15:13

The 31-year-old center-back joined Chelsea from Napoli for €40m. Koulibaly had the number 26 shirt at Napoli and was eager to retain it, the only problem was that it was the legendary shirt number of Chelsea icon John Terry.


John Terry

departed at the end of the 2016-17 season the shirt was unofficially retired as no first-team player at


has worn 26 after Terry. Koulibaly reveals John Terry thought his courtesy call for the shirt number was a prank caller and hung up on Chelsea's new centre-back. Terry eventually happily gave his blessing as he will wear the number 26 next season at Chelsea as well.

The 31-year-old


"I was nervous a bit because I was waiting to sign my contract in Chelsea. It happened the day before. I was happy, and the second thing is I wanted to know which number was free.

"Speaking with the team manager, he told me some numbers, and he didn't tell me the 26. I said that John left it in 2017 and nobody took it from this time. So I was asking myself if it was retired or maybe nobody wanted to take it."


Koulibaly revealed it was the former


and Chelsea hero,

Gianfranco Zola

, who gave him John Terry's phone number.

"I asked Gianfranco Zola, who I know very well, about the club, about the structure and the supporters, and I asked him for John's number because I wanted to ask for the jersey,"

Koulibaly said.

"I called him and at the beginning he didn't believe that it was me, he believed it was a joke. He put down the phone and called the team manager to ask if it was really me.

"I know that it's a very important number for him, and it's very important for me because I took it to Napoli and I wanted to keep it for here at Chelsea.

"When he told me 'yes', I was really happy because I know what he did for the club and the supporters and the city here, and I knew it was important to ask him. He gave me his answer and I was happy.

"I wanted to tell people I had asked him before, because I didn't want to be disrespectful to a legend of the club."


Chelsea will kick off their Premier League season on Saturday against 




This team is a fantastic team of winners, of big stuff. I want to give them everything on the pitch,"

Koulibaly added.

"I'm 31 with a good club in a good city. I hope I will stay here a long time."

"I will try to do my best and try to give solidity to the team. I know it will be difficult because I come from Italy and Premier League football is difficult. But I'm very motivated and want to show everybody Chelsea made a good choice with me."



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