Chelsea FC are now one of the most successful clubs in the world and John Terry can be proud of the part he played in making the Blues one of the dominant forces in European football that they are today. Terry has certainly been the face of Chelsea FC and here Zevenworld relives his journey at Stamford Bridge that saw him win multiple trophies in England and Europe.
From a midfield Hammer to a centre-back Blue
Having initially played for the West Ham youth team as a midfielder, Terry joined Chelsea in 1995 at the age of 14. At that time Chelsea lacked central defenders, and that was the reason why Terry shifted to a centre-back position. And that one decision perhaps was what gave the world one of the best defenders ever in club football. It was a slow start for Terry at the club but he gradually established himself, and was voted the club’s Player of the Year in the 2000-01 season.
Terry becomes great, Chelsea become greater
Now Terry had all the makings of a world-class defender. All he needed was a good enough team around him. Roman Abramovich came into the scene in 2004, and so did Jose Mourinho not long after. The Portuguese manager was immediately drawn into Terry’s gameplay, and more importantly, his presence. For apart from knowing his position and playing according to plan, Terry could lead. Terry could influence others around him. Terry could motivate. In a football team, there is always that one player everyone looks up to. Mourinho found that player in Terry. The captain’s armband found itself on Terry’s arm in Mourinho’s very first season, which also happened to be a Premier League winning season, and it stuck there for another 13 years. That season also gave him the special status of being the first Chelsea player and first defender to win the PFA Player of the Season award. “Mr Chelsea” soon became a household name: he did not stay good, he became great.
The unbreakable defensive wall
The Premier League has witnessed some of the best attackers in the world in the last few years. But rarely could anyone find themselves at the wrong end of Mr Chelsea with the ball at their feet. Why? Because Terry had his brain configured as a security system against opponent attackers; he could read their minds.
There were times when an attacker might have thought to have beaten Terry, only to realise a split second late that an outstretched leg had dispossessed him of the ball. In exigencies, a perfectly timed crunching-tackle came to the team’s rescue more often than not.
Terry wasn’t exactly quick. Yet he could hold solid ground and make tackles and interceptions almost pre-meditatively, anticipating what was coming. That was one thing which made him great: he did not simply play the game, he also read the game to perfection.
Of headers and attacks
Terry the defender was a rock-solid assurance at the back. Terry the attacker was another dangerous part that opponents had nightmares dealing with. Ever heard of the highest scoring defender in the Premier League? No prizes for guessing, yes, it is Terry. And he never took a spot-kick either! These goals were mostly headers.
And then there were also his long balls and diagonal crosses. He had a bird’s eye view of the entire football pitch, aware of everyone’s position besides influencing umpteen counter-attacks. The sequence for him was simple: intercept, cross or lob and see the attackers finish it off – again more often than not.
Terry was a resolute figure. He threw himself on the line when needed. He could take a hit and yet shrug it off with a smile. On many occasions, he would throw himself dangerously close to the studs of another player, eyes on the ball, and each and every effort devoted to clearing the lines.
The all-conquering legend
The club revolved around him. 578 times he captained the side - a league record. 713 times he appeared for his side - a club record.
And it was not just Chelsea that Terry inspired. It was England as well. A captain for his nation from 2006-2010, he led The Three Lions to quite a few important wins, and even when he was not leading, he was the reliable defender that you could always count on.
The ‘Blue Army’ across the globe holds this great close to their heart. Terry chants are common in Chelsea games, as is the enormous Terry banner that does the rounds in the crowd, and the stand with the iconic statement which reads, JT: Captain, Leader, Legend.
It is hard to imagine a Chelsea team without Terry. As he brings the curtain down on a 22-year-old bond with Chelsea, one may ask, what actually would they be missing? Terry the player? Terry the leader? Or Terry the legend? The answer is all three. An era definitely comes to an end with his departure.