TheHardTackle looks at the life and times of Chelsea defender John Terry and opine on why he embodies everything right with the club and why he is already a legend for Chelsea fans.

Disclaimer : This article has been written by a Terry fan-boy. Everything written in this piece is a result of the author getting the opportunity to pen his thoughts on his years of admiration for the Skipper.

John George Terry is Chelsea through-and-through. Some West Ham fans may claim otherwise, but JT moved from the East London club at the age of 14 and started playing in the Chelsea youth and reserve teams. At 17, he signed professional terms at The Bridge and made his first team debut a year later in 1998 against Aston Villa in the league cup. Before he became a regular with Chelsea, he spent some time on-loan with Nottingham Forest and returned to West London in the year 2000. In the 2000-01 season, he became a first-team regular and was voted the PFA player of the year. He led Chelsea for the first time in the 2003-04 season under Ranieri and got it permanently under Mourinho in the 04-05 season. That season was Chelsea’s best – in terms of points accrued and clean sheets kept. John Terry’s stock began to rise, both within the team and with his country. When Steve McLaren announced JT as the successor to David Beckham for England captaincy in 2006, it came as little surprise to most. A midfielder by choice early on his career, Chelsea fans thank the absent defender that day when JT was forced to play in his place. A spot he has made his own since then.

Terry – The Captain, Leader:

It was once said about Terry, that if you cut him open, he will bleed blue. In most Chelsea fans’ eyes, he has proved that to be true with his performances on the pitch. Even during his prime, he may not have been the quickest of defenders around, but he did have one thing on his side – passion. The pride of turning up for his beloved club and leading it on the pitch is second to none for him.

Be it in attack or defence, JT has given his everything, always. He is the kind of captain that every team member will look up to and will inspire young players on the pitch. Yes, there have been negative influences during his tenure, but he has not let that affect his performances. Imagine being at the receiving end of not-so-appreciative songs about your family and still being able to do your job well. Terry does that every week. No doubt every player gets abuse from away fans, but with Terry being the most hated Chelsea player consistently for the last decade, the abuse he gets from the terraces would bring down the strongest of characters. Not only that, his captaincy is of the best form – leading from the front. Be it attacking or defending corners – he is there. Be it putting in a hard tackle even if it means a suspension – he is there. Be it roughing up the opposition and supporting your own – he is there. Of the many great defenders as captains that Chelsea have had in the past, right from Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris to the great Marcel Desailly, Terry is undoubtedly up there with the best.

John Terry

Terry after the 2008 UCL final in Moscow

He wears the club’s crest with pride. A collage of his goal celebrations would definitely have one thing in common – him kissing the club badge in front of the fans to let them know he loves them and the club. Nothing proves his love for the club more than that fateful night in Moscow in 2008 when he lost his footing and slipped, only to miss a crucial penalty which meant Chelsea lost the Champions League finals to Man United. Post match, he was inconsolable and needed to be pacified by Avram Grant. More than anything, he was angry at himself, for having decided to take the penalty and missing it. The anger of having let down the fans, his coach and most importantly his colleagues. The following year, Chelsea lifted the Premier League title led by Terry and of course, famously lifted the elusive Champions League trophy only two years later in Munich. All this from a man who was written off as a ‘has-been’ and a ‘cry baby’.

Terry – The Legend:

In many fans’ book, Terry is already a legend. The most successful captain Chelsea has ever had, the highest scoring defender in Premier League history, three Premier league, five FA Cups and two League Cups certainly don’t hurt the cause.

More than anything, the fans love the fact that he comes to applaud them after every game, gives away his boots and throws his shirt into the Chelsea end. It is not the skill of being a defender that has endeared him to the Blues faithful, but it is apart from that. He is no doubt a quality defender with his heading abilities, his tackling and most importantly his reading of the game. The fact that he loves Chelsea so much, has made the fans love him even more.

Like with every player in the constant glare of the media, there have been controversies for him off the pitch and on it. The arrest for a bar scuffle in his early days, the alleged racist language he used for Anton Ferdinand and his alleged affair have all been a part of his life. Inspite of this, Chelsea fans love him because of what he is on the pitch. It doesn’t matter to them if he is labeled a ‘racist’ or a ‘love-cheat’, all they know is that when he puts on a Chelsea shirt, he is ready to die for it. The fear that, one day, it might actually turn out to be true is what most Chelsea fans don’t like about him. All said and done, Terry represents is what is great about football. He plays every game as if it is his last, he is determined to win every ball and he is a fighter in the truest sense of the word. He does not like losing and is not afraid to speak his mind. As an ever present banner at The Bridge says, he is the undisputed leader of John Terry’s Blue Army.

Oh yes, one more thing before we sign off – belated wishes for your birthday, Skipper! (He turned 33 on 7th December)