Crossing a milestone

Despite the arrival of so many superstars, John Terry's position in the Chelsea team has never been in doubt, writes Marcus Booth.

Much has changed at Chelsea since Roman Abramovich's takeover that sparked the most successful era in the club's history.

The vast sums of money spent attracting some of the top players in the world to Stamford Bridge means Chelsea now bear little comparison to the club before their mega-rich Russian owner arrived.

There has been one player, however, who has remained at the club throughout and witnessed the transformation at first hand.

John Terry joined Chelsea as a 14-year-old, initially as a midfielder, and came through the ranks to secure a first-team place.

Despite the arrival of so many superstars, Terry's position in the team has never been in doubt and he made his 500th appearance for Chelsea in the crucial 2-1 win against Tottenham recently which kept them on course for the Barclays English Premier League title.

He first lifted the trophy in his first season as captain in 2004-05 and he admits that he is amazed with the success he has enjoyed.

“Looking back, when I was 18, on 30-odd games, I could never have predicted where I am today,” he said. “I'm delighted to hit 500. I'm very proud. I've got a great rapport with the fans and I want many, many more games. I've got three years left on my contract and that's what I intend to do.”

Reaching 500 appearances also allowed Terry to reflect on the best and worst moments of his career at the club. “My top moment would have to be the Barcelona game when we beat them here and I scored the winner. The low-point is obviously the Champions League final, missing the penalty,” he explained.

“But throughout my career I've been the most successful captain in Chelsea's history and that means a lot to me and it's something I'll always take with me.”

The Blues' players could be forgiven if retaining the championship was the last thing on their minds just over two months ago when they were languishing outside the top four and in danger of failing to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. They were also on course to drop 18 points behind United when they trailed the leaders 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on March 1.

But coming back to win that game sparked a run of 25 points — out of a possible 27 from nine games — that saw Chelsea move close to United. Terry said: “I always believed. Through the season, you have good spells, some not so good spells and some bad patches as well.

“There was no doubt we'd have a bad one and it was about coming out of that as soon as we could.

“It took us a few weeks to do that but, once we did, we've shown a turn of form at the right time. All we could do was keep winning and putting the pressure on.”

The force appears to be with the defending champions judging by the assistant refereeing blunders that gifted them their win against Tottenham.

Terry claimed he had seen a photograph that “clearly” showed Frank Lampard's equaliser had crossed the line, despite television pictures suggesting otherwise.

He added: “We deserved that because we never give up and that's the mentality of the football club.

“We've got that mentality on the training pitch, a great manager (Carlo Ancelotti) the players believe in and trust. He deserves a great deal of credit.

“He took a lot of stick but he kept us going and, with the formation, went back to what worked for us earlier in the season. We will never give up.”

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