Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata has, today, changed his squad number from #9 to #29 as a tribute to the birth of his twins on July 29th (2018).
On Chelsea’s official website, the Spanish striker stated, “It is a day I will never forget, to welcome my twin sons into the world. My family is so important to me and I want to honour them and my wife, Alice, when I am on the pitch which is why I have decided to take a different number for the new season and remember this special day by adding the number 2 to my shirt“.
He continued to say, “I am sorry to the fans who may have bought a number 9 with my name already, but I hope you understand my tribute and that it will not be a problem and we can make you a new one with the 29. Thank you for your support and I hope this year there will be lots more to celebrate“.
Now, those are two heart-warming gestures in one. It’s nice to see the human side of footballers sometimes. But I don’t think that Morata’s switch to #29 was influenced by the birth of his twins. In fact, his twins just gave him an opportunity to escape the cursed Chelsea #9 shirt.
We all know that the #9 shirt at Stamford Bridge has been cursed for years. The only two players to flourish wearing the heavy number on their backs were Gianluca Vialli and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. But everyone that followed suffered from its spell of failure.
Since 1992, Tony Cascarino, Chris Sutton, Mateja Kezman, Hernan Crespo, Khalid Boulahrouz (yes, a defender), Steve Sidwell (a midfielder), Franco Di Santo, Fernando Torres and Radamel Falcao all wore the number 9 shirt and miserably failed at Chelsea. Okay, a few of them didn’t particularly fail, but they did have unusually difficult spells.
Morata joined that unfortunate list of victims last season after a rather disappointing first season at Chelsea. He scored 11 goals in 31 league appearances, averaging 0.35 goals per game. His shooting accuracy in the Premier League was 43% and he missed a total of 17 big chances (according to premierleague.com). His cup form and Champions League campaign didn’t go too well either.
Morata’s move away from the #9 may improve his scoring statistics, as well as his overall impact on games this season. I know it all sounds like old folklore or some spooky made-up superstition, but the stats speak for themselves. Besides, the last striker to wear Chelsea’s #29 shirt did pretty well — Samuel Eto’o. Demba Ba and Diego Costa also prevailed while not wearing #9 (they both wore #19). Maybe, just maybe, Chelsea will see a brand new Morata in 2018/2019.
Morata’s first test wearing the #29 shirt will be in Sunday’s Community Shield fixture against Manchester City.