Leading from the back

John Terry has helped Chelsea become a force to be reckoned with at home and abroad and been at the heart of the England defence for the best part of the last five years, writes Alfonso Torr.

As the captain of his country and of the club he has been at since the age of 14, John Terry can reflect on a pretty successful last decade or so in football.

Terry, 29, has helped Chelsea become a force to be reckoned with at home and abroad and been at the heart of the England defence for the best part of the last five years.

A bulging trophy cabinet includes two Barclays English Premier League title triumphs, three FA Cups and two League Cups.

But for his crucial penalty miss during the 2008 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United, Terry could also have joined the elite band of players to have hoisted aloft the European Cup.

As it is, Terry’s misery in Moscow could haunt him for the rest of his playing days, and he has admitted as much. “I think about it every day,” he reflected recently. “When I wake up it’s on my mind, when I go to training, even silly things like when we practice penalties at the training ground, I rewind back to that time. It’s one of those things, it has been and gone now but we still have a squad of players that can go on to win the trophy.”

It is a mark of Terry as a man that he can speak so openly and candidly about the lowest point of his career. It also speaks volumes about his attitude and application that he is determined to right a wrong and help Chelsea end its wait for a major European trophy.

Indeed, Terry’s commitment to Chelsea is incredible. He has played over 430 times for the club since making his debut in October 1998. No fewer than six managers — including Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho — have been and gone from Stamford Bridge since then, but Terry has remained and his influence on and off the pitch has increased as every season has passed.

Learning his trade alongside the likes of Marcel Desailly and William Gallas, Terry showcased his leadership qualities from a very early age. The arrival of Mourinho in 2004 heralded unprecedented success for the Blues and Terry, who succeeded Desailly as skipper following the Frenchman’s retirement.

Back-to-back EPL titles followed in 2004/05 and 2005/06 as the Roman Abramovich era of big-money signings finally came to fruition, with Chelsea particularly formidable at the back thanks to the partnership of Terry and Ricardo Carvalho.

A series of injuries — including a dislocated elbow, broken bones, a persistent back problem and a troublesome ankle — have seen Terry suffer more than his fair share of setbacks in recent years, but each time he has come back fitter and stronger.

The only blot on his copy book is the lack of international honours to his name. He has amassed over half a century of England caps, and will be hoping to play a pivotal part for Fabio Capello’s men at the World Cup later this year after the country failed to reach Euro 2008 and struggled to meet expectation levels at previous major tournaments.

Nevertheless, Terry remains at the top of his game and is one of the shrewdest operators around. So much so that Manchester City came calling in July 2009 and was reportedly prepared to offer as much as GBP50 million for a player fast approaching 30.

But Terry has unfinished business to attend to at Stamford Bridge. Now under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea, this season, is well on course to wrest the EPL title back off Manchester United, and has progressed to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with ease.

However, you sense that Terry will only truly be content with his lot if he gets his hands on the European Cup at some point between now and the end of his career.

Terry’s status as a leading role model in the game is a far cry from the controversy that surrounded him in 2002 when he, along with former Chelsea team-mate Jody Morris, was involved in a fight in a London nightclub. Terry was later cleared of affray, but it has taken years for him to prove himself in the eyes of some.

Terry married Toni in June 2007 and the couple has a son called Georgie and twin daughter named Summer Rose.

Given that Terry reportedly earns over GBP130,000 a week, it is hardly surprising that he has splashed the cash on some of the most expensive cars around, including a Range Rover Sport 4.4 V8 HSE, a BMW X5 4.81SE and a Porsche 911 Turbo.

FACTFILE Name: John Terry Position: Defender Club: Chelsea D.O.B: 07/12/80 England caps: 58 England goals: 6 England debut: v Serbia, June 2003 Moment to remember

Terry is such a big-game player for club and country it is difficult to pick out any one game in which he has particularly excelled. However, skippering Chelsea to FA Cup success over Manchester United in the first final at the revamped Wembley Stadium in May 2007 will live long in his memory.

Moment to forget

The moment Terry slipped as he took his penalty kick during the 2008 UEFA Champions League final at Luzhniki Stadium will stay with him forever. Had Terry scored, Chelsea would have been crowned king of Europe for the first time. Instead, Terry’s effort rebounded off the post after he stumbled and Manchester United took full advantage to reclaim the European Cup.

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