Chelsea’s Number 9 Curse – Performance Stats of All Players to Wear #9 at CFC

Since 2000, Chelsea F.C. have enjoyed unprecedented, by their own standards, success, ascending to the status of one of the world’s elite clubs and winning every possible trophy, including an impressive five Premier Leagues and four major European trophies.

However, despite having some of the world’s top players in their team, there is one position, or particularly shirt number, where Blues players have seemed destined to fail: the number 9, typically awarded to the club’s main striker. For Chelsea, the last two decades have seen numerous elite-level centre forwards move to west London, take on the no. 9 shirt, and inexplicably struggle to hit the back of the net. In this article, we will compile a table of Chelsea’s number nines since 2000, before rounding up some of the most prominent players to be “cursed”.

List of Chelsea Players Who Wore No. 9 Jersey

Below we have created a table detailing all of the players to have been awarded Chelsea’s number nine shirt in the 21st century, highlighting how many games they played and the (usually disappointing) number of times they managed to find the back of the net!

Player Years Spent at Chelsea Appearances (All Comps) Goals (All Comps)
Chris Sutton 1999-2000 39 3
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 2001-2004 177 87
Mateja Kezman 2004-2005 41 7
Hernan Crespo 2003-2006 73 25
Khalid Boulahrouz* 2006-2007 20 0
Steve Sidwell** 2007-2008 25 1
Franco Di Santo 2008-2009 16 0
Fernando Torres 2010-2014 172 45
Radamel Falcao 2015-2016 12 1
Alvaro Morata 2017-2019 72 24
Gonzalo Higuain 2018-2019 19 5
Tammy Abraham 2015-2021 82 30
Romelu Lukaku 2021-2022 44 15
  • *It is worth mentioning that Boulahrouz was a centre-back, rather than a striker, who was given the no. 9 shirt by Jose Mourinho due to lack of shirt options!
  • **Steve Sidwell was also not a centre-forward and seems to be another unusual pick for a Blues no. 9 by Mourinho! Just like Boulahrouz, he also just managed one year at Stamford Bridge.

As you can see, the last player to truly thrive in the no. 9 shirt was Dutchman, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who left west London all the way back in 2004! Since this point, it’s pretty much been a familiar tale of short, unsuccessful, “cursed” spells for those playing in the infamous blue number nine shirt.

Now we will pick four of the most famous strikers to don the cursed shirt, to question what on earth went wrong! We will also then give each player a “flop” rating out of 10, based on how disappointing their time at Chelsea was.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres ( | Bigstockphoto)
  • Flop Rating: 9

First up, we have a player whose dramatic downturn in form upon signing for the Blues and donning the no. 9 shirt is nothing short of perplexing: Fernando Torres. Chelsea broke the British transfer record at the time to bring the Spaniard to west London, splashing out some £50 million on a clinical striker who had scored 81 goals in 142 games for Liverpool.

However, at Chelsea, “el Niño” suddenly struggled to find the back of the net, failing to score more than eight league goals in a single season during his time in London. Whilst Torres managed to score that iconic, or should we say unbelievable (!) goal against Barcelona in 2012 (looking at you, Gary Neville), he later revealed that Chelsea simply did not suit him. What could have been, eh?

Hernan Crespo

  • Flop Rating: 6

Next, we have a player whose status as a so-called “flop” is often debated. For a striker who had scored more than a goal every other game at Parma, Lazio and Inter, his record of 25 goals in 73 games for the Blues may appear slightly disappointing.

However, it is also worth mentioning that Crespo was a very popular figure at Stamford Bridge, and scored several wonder goals that showcased the immense talent possessed by the Argentine forward. The striker also revealed that during his time at Chelsea him and his wife lost two children, making it a very tough period emotionally for him. Some great goals, tough times off the pitch, and an ok goalscoring record make it only a 6/10 for Hernan on the flop scale.

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata
Alvaro Morata (@cfcunofficial | – CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Flop Rating: 8

Like Fernando Torres, fellow Spaniard, Alvaro Morata, arrived at Chelsea with high expectations, largely due to the club-record fee of £60 million that was paid for his services. Despite serving as Karim Benzema’s backup, Morata had managed an impressive 20 goals in 43 games for Real Madrid in the season prior, and Chelsea fans hoped that he would continue in the same vein in west London.

However, despite a bright start to his first season, in which the Spaniard had scored 10 league goals by December, including a hat-trick, Morata’s form quickly suffered. The forward only then managed to add one more league goal in the second half of the season, before only being able to find the net five times in his second Premier League campaign for the Blues. The Spaniard quickly developed a reputation for almost constantly being caught offside, and despite scoring goals wherever he has gone, his career has never truly taken off, despite spells at Juventus and Atletico Madrid.

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku (canno73 | Bigstockphoto)
  • Flop Rating: 10

Finally, we have the most expensive footballer of all time, in terms of cumulative transfer fees, and perhaps the most disappointing player on this list: burly Belgian Romelu Lukaku. The clinical forward re-joined Chelsea for an astounding £97.5 million, another club record, following an enormously successful spell at Inter Milan in which he scored 64 goals in 95 games and won Serie A.

Lukaku’s signing for the Blues initially appeared to be a fairytale return, as the striker immediately scored a brace on his debut, but things quickly soured. In December, after just a few months in west London, Lukaku appeared in a controversial interview with Sky Italia, in which he voiced his frustration with Thomas Tuchel’s system, which seemed completely at odds with the Belgian’s style of play.

This was epitomised by Chelsea’s game against Crystal Palace, in which the striker only touched the ball seven times in the entire match! After a hugely disappointing first season saw Lukaku only manage eight league goals, he quickly returned to Inter Milan on loan. For almost £100 million, the Belgian unfortunately scores a 10 on the flop scale!