Gianfranco Zola: Why Moises Caicedo wears Chelsea's iconic number 25 shirt

Since the departure of Zola in 2003, Chelsea retired the no. 25 jersey for 20 years until Caicedo came |Photo Credit: Imago

Gianfranco Zola: Why Moises Caicedo wears Chelsea's iconic number 25 shirt

Asukwo Oduo 09:37 - 20.05.2024

Moises Caicedo is beginning to look like the player Chelsea splashed out millions of pounds to sign last summer.

Chelsea's midfield maestro Moises Caicedo scored a glorious goal yesterday in the Blues 2-1 win over Bournemouth.

Moises Caicedo beat Cherries goalkeeper Neto from the halfway line when a loose ball broke to the Ecuadorian.

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Caicedo's effort has been tipped to win the 2023/2024 Premier League goal of the season ahead of some other fantastic strikes by Manchester United's Garnacho and West Ham's Kudus.

Who wore Chelsea's iconic jersey number 25 before Caicedo?

Before the arrival of Caicedo, Chelsea faithfuls adored the number 25 jersey because it was adorned by a man they love - Gianfranco Zola.

Zola played for the Stamford Bridge outfit between 1996 and 2003, scoring 80 goals (59 in the EPL) and 38 assists in 312 games across all competitions for the club.

The Italian magician was voted Chelsea's greatest-ever player by fans of the West London club, winning 60% of the votes in 2003.

Reports have it that when Roman Abramovic took over at Chelsea, he did everything possible to keep Zola (including offering him an improved contract), but the Italian stuck by his guns because he had already given his word to Cagliari - a club in his native.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Abramovic tried to buy off Cagliari just to persuade Zola, but the move didn't materialise.

Zola would then go on to help Cagliari gain promotion to Serie A in 2003 after a four-year absence.

Franco Zola retired in 2005 but returned to Chelsea as an assistant coach under Maurizio Sarri during the 2018/2019 season.

Why does Caicedo wear jersey number 25 for Chelsea?

For 20 years, no Chelsea player wore the number 25 jersey. The Blues had previously retired the shirt number in honour of club legend Gianfranco Zola.

However, in 2023, when Caicedo signed for Chelsea in a £115m move from Brighton, he contacted Zola and begged the Italian to allow him to wear the revered number 25 shirt.

Zola gave Caicedo the nod, which is why the Ecuadorian now wears the iconic number 25 shirt.

“Thank you for the message, Moises. I hope it will bring to you as many pleasures as it brought to me. Good luck,” Zola told Caicedo.

Although Zola and Caicedo play different roles for Chelsea, the Ecuadorian has a long way to go if he is to match the Italian's feat for the club.