The Dutchman has shared a great anecdote about his time in London, which saw him granted an attacker’s number despite playing in defence
Khalid Boulahrouz has revealed why he had the No. 9 shirt during his two-year spell at Chelsea, joking that the “kit man set him up”.
The former defender played for the Blues between 2006 and 2008, racking up 23 appearances across all competitions before moving to Stuttgart in 2008.
The one-time Netherlands international struggled to break into the team with John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho picked as first-choice centre-backs, which saw him largely reduced to a bit-part role as a full-back.
Despite being a defender by trade, Boulahrouz was given the highly-coveted No. 9 shirt at Stamford Bridge – a jersey usually reserved for a team’s main striker.
The 37-year-old admits he requested that number when he first arrived in west London, as he told FOX Sports: “It was my dream to become a striker for a top team, so I thought ‘maybe I can force it this way’.
“No, I just arrived there and it was all last minute. The competition was already started and it was two days before the game vs Middlesbrough when I signed my contract. One day before the match I was entitled to play.
“I had to pick a number and the kit man from Chelsea started with No. 9. And then he continued with 45, 47… So my thought was ‘I’m not gonna play with a number like that’ so I said ‘Okay, give me No. 9’.”
Boulahrouz went on to reveal that then-boss Jose Mourinho reacted with confusion over his choice of shirt, before shutting down his explanation and offering him an alternative number fit for his role.
“On matchday, we were in the hotel when he asked me why I chose No. 9,” he added.
“I told him I didn’t want to play with a high number like 47 or 49. ‘You can understand that, right?’ But he responded: ‘But No. 2 is also available’ and I was thinking ‘Oh God, what am I doing?’ I guess that kit man set me up.”
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Boulahrouz picked up League Cup and FA Cup winners’ medals during his first season at Chelsea but was shipped out on loan to Sevilla at the start of the 2007-2008 campaign, which led to his eventual departure.
Mourinho, meanwhile, left Stamford Bridge in September 2007 but returned to the club six years later after successful stints at Inter and Real Madrid.
Boulahrouz moved into coaching after retiring from the game in 2016, taking up a role with Indonesian Women’s side Persijap Jepara.