“John Terry is the captain of all team captains, he was born with the captain’s armband on his arm”- Carlo Ancelotti.
John Terry announced today that he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season.
The 36 year old has made just four Premier League starts under Antonio Conte, but feels he still has “plenty to offer on the pitch”.
Chelsea’s captain has been embroiled in controversy on several notable occasions, but his career statistics illustrate beyond doubt that the Londoner is one of the finest English centre halves in history.
Since making his Chelsea debut in 1998, Terry has scored 66 goals in 713 appearances for the London club, and has worn the armband on 578 occasions, a club record.
He will leave Stamford Bridge as the club’s most decorated player, and only Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti have made more appearances for the London side.
Terry’s trophy haul includes four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League with the club.
The defender was selected on the PFA Team of the Year, FIFA FIFPro World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year on four separate occasions, and on the ESM (European Sports Media) Team of the Year three times.
The Chelsea skipper was also named as the UEFA Club Defender of the Year (2005, 2008, 2009) and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2004-05).
Terry possesses every attribute you could desire in a centre half. He was a leader of men, and led by example on the pitch, putting his body on the line every week. He is disciplined, brave, technically good and excellent in both boxes. Unsurprisingly, he’s beloved by the Stamford Bridge faithful.
He’s endeared himself to fans and pundits with his fearless approach to defending, and we all grew used to witnessing Terry hurl himself in the path of goal-bound shots on a weekly basis.
“Terry is always in the right position. His understanding of where to be, his reading of the game and reading crosses cannot be matched. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone better,” Jamie Carragher said.
One aspect of his game which is sometimes overlooked is his technical proficiency, something which Carragher also touched on.
“I just feel that the way he is viewed obscures his playing qualities. His ability on the ball never gets spoken about. How many defenders in world football can switch the play with their weaker foot?”
The 36 year old made his debut in 1998, but established himself in the 2000-01 season when his performances earned him the club’s player of the year award. He formed an excellent partnership with Marcel Desailly at the heart of the Chelsea defence, and later captained the side in the Frenchman’s absence.
It was the arrival of Jose Mourinho in 2004, however, which elevated Terry to the top bracket of world class centre halves. The Portuguese boss made Terry the club captain upon his arrival, and the English defender became the cornerstone of Chelsea’s impermeable defence.
Terry skippered Chelsea to their first title in 50 years in Mourinho’s first season, and formed a formidable partnership with Ricardo Carvalho, appearing in 36 of the Blues’ 38 league games. He also chipped in with eight goals, including a Champions League winner over Barcelona.
“The toughest opponents for me are the defenders who are tough in the way they play, where you can’t see a way through. Paolo Maldini and John Terry are two of the toughest men I have met on the field,” Ronaldinho later observed.
Such a long career inevitably brought lows as well as staggering heights, and Terry’s lowest point on the field was his penalty slip in the 2008 Champions League final which handed Manchester United the trophy.
A former England captain, Terry represented his country 78 times from 2003-12, scoring six goals. His on field performances were excellent, but the centre half’s international career was dogged by controversy.
He was stripped of the English captaincy twice in that time – due to rumours of an affair with Wayne Bridge’s former partner Vanessa Perroncel and allegations of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand respectively – and Terry stepped down from international football after the latter incident in 2012, describing his position as “untenable”.
Amazingly, both Andres Villas Boas and Rafa Benitez tried to faze Terry out of the team during their brief tenures at Stamford Bridge, but Terry proved any claims that he was over the hill false when Jose Mourinho returned to the club in 2013.
He played all 38 games in Chelsea’s 2014-15 title winning season, and was included in the PFA Team of the Year. His performances stuttered during Chelsea’s horrendous title defence, which saw Mourinho depart the club for the second time.
Antonio Conte has shown faith in Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta as his three defenders in Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system this season, and Terry has been the one to miss out.
“I genuinely mean when I say it, but for me I am honestly hoping I don’t play this season which means they keep winning,” Terry told BT Sport earlier this season.
His best days are undoubtedly behind him, but Terry would be more than capable of doing a job for most teams in England’s top flight, and will have suitors queuing up worldwide to offer him a route away from Stamford Bridge.
His controversies aside, John Terry should be remembered as one of the great captains, and the best centre half to ply his trade in the Premier League.