The months and days are sliding by and John Terry seems to be on borrowed time, as far as his Chelsea career is concerned. As the ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ looks likely to bid farewell, The Hard Tackle attempts to look forward to what the future holds for Terry and also take a glance at a glorious career with the Blues.
The end of the road looks to be nigh for John Terry. He is out of the first team picture at Chelsea, and several reports have stated that he won’t be offered a new deal when his current contract with the club runs out at the end of the season. Earlier this week, The Times reported that it has been communicated to Terry that the end of the 2016/17 season will also mean the conclusion of his remarkable playing career at Stamford Bridge.
This season, Terry has managed to make just seven appearances for the Blues, the last of which came off the bench in the 5-0 demolition of Everton in October. A combination of unfortunate injuries and a change of tactics has meant that he has lost his spot in the starting lineup, with seemingly no way back in. So, as the curtain call nears for Terry, here’s a look back at what has been a truly great career at Chelsea for the 36-year-old.
A Look Back: From Promising Beginnings To A Celebrated Legend
Terry’s association with Chelsea has been a lengthy one, joining the West London outfit as a 14-year-old. From thereon, he represented the club’s youth and reserve teams before making his debut in the 1998/99 season. Sporadic appearances along with a short loan spell at Nottingham Forest followed.
However, come the 2000/01 season, Terry finally broke into the first team, establishing himself as the first-choice centre-back alongside club captain Marcel Desailly to create a formidable partnership at the heart of the Chelsea defence. He rounded off a successful season at Stamford Bridge by being adjudged the club’s Player of the Year.
Fast forward to 2004. It’s been a year since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. Portuguese sensation Jose Mourinho is at helm after leading Porto to an unprecedented treble. This is well and truly the dawn of a new era at Stamford Bridge, and who better to lead the club into a period of success than someone who is now regarded as one of the best defenders in world football – John Terry.
The club hasn’t looked back since then, going from strength to strength and winning everything there is on offer in European football. During this period, Abramovich’s financial clout was undoubtedly a huge factor that enabled Chelsea to challenge the might of traditional Premier League powerhouses, Manchester United and Arsenal.
On the field though, it was Terry’s influential displays alongside other of Chelsea’s ‘Old Guard’ in Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in the spine of the Chelsea XI that set the club on the path to success. Terry led from the front, becoming the rock at the back for the Blues and was ably supported by the likes of William Gallas, Ricardo Carvalho, David Luiz and Gary Cahill over the years as Chelsea established themselves as the meanest defence in England in seven of the twelve seasons since 2004-05.
Over the successful twelve-year period, Terry’s illustrious career has been laden with several honours both individually and otherwise. For the West Londoners, he has won four Premier League title, the FA Cup as many times, three League Cup trophies, one Europa League, alongside his crowning glory, the UEFA Champions League in the 2011/12 season.
His individual honours also make for impressive reading, being adjudged Chelsea’s Player of the Year twice, the PFA Player of the Year in 2005 as well as being crowned as UEFA Club Defender of the Year on three occasions. He was also a part of the PFA Team of the Year five times and made the FIFA FIFPro World XI for five straight years from 2005 to 2009.
However, it hasn’t been all hunky dory for Terry and he has been no stranger to controversy over the years. From squabbles to harassment charges, there have been several instances that have made Terry a hugely unpopular figure among rival supporters, not least of which was the four-match ban handed to him for using racist language towards Anton Ferdinand in a match against Queen Park Rangers, in 2011.
Terry though, has atoned for the mistakes, apologising and accepting his misdoings over the years. And his legacy, tainted though it may be by the controversies he’s been a part of over the years, will never be about the cause célèbre that attracted needless attention.
Rather, he will be known for shepherding a period of success at a club that had grown all too familiar with being in the mid table. Chelsea has been far from mediocre in the last twelve years, instead being the most successful team in England. Terry has been at the centre of it all, winning 64% of the titles that the club has won in its entire history.
His influence on the field in his heydays was undeniable, commanding the defence with aplomb with his effective leadership and smart reading of the game. So much so that the absence of the skipper meant that Chelsea struggled to hold their own in front of opponents, big or small. He had, and still has, the ability to lead and inspire from the front, egging his teammates on in periods of uncertainty and looking assured and certain when facing a barrage from the opposition attacks.
He has also groomed youngsters and helped new arrivals to settle in at the club, aiding the likes of Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and lately Kurt Zouma during their teething period.
The writing though, seems to be on the wall. So what happens now?
What Next For Terry?
Terry has lost in place in the first team, and he doesn’t seem to fit in Antonio Conte’s current system which demands more mobility and athleticism from his centre-backs. With the report by The Times stating that he won’t be offered a new contract, his playing days with Chelsea will evidently soon be over. Should he wish to extend his career on the field, he could take up the lucrative offer that Shanghai Shenhua have put on the table, or move to a club elsewhere.
However, The Times also pointed out that the Chelsea hierarchy is still interested in retaining the services of Terry, albeit in a non-playing role as an ambassador or a coach. Indeed, Terry has been nothing but a consummate professional during his time on the sidelines.
He may not be the central figure on the pitch but Terry has been helping out Antonio Conte’s coaching staff with post-match warm-down sessions for unused substitutes after most games. He has also been assisting Conte and his staff in training, often seen with a stopwatch in his hand, putting the Chelsea players through their paces at the Cobham training ground. Terry has also been working on attaining his coaching badges but is uncertain whether he wants to become a coach.
As reported by Daily Mail recently, here’s what Terry had to say on his present and the immediate future that lay ahead: “I still want to play for a couple more years – whether that is here at Chelsea or somewhere abroad, I don’t know. I am contracted to Chelsea for this season and then will see after that. I’m doing my coaching badges. I don’t know if I want to be a coach, but I want to do my badges and pass.”
Terry’s playing career with Chelsea may be nearing its end but his association with the club will be far from over after his contract runs out. As he looks intent on continuing his playing career after the end of the season, it remains to be seen whether there’s a temporary hiatus in between the transition to a non-playing role.