Chelsea captain John Terry recently made his 600th appearance for the club, joining a select group of Chelsea legends including “Chopper” Harris, Frank Lampard and Peter Bonetti who have reached the impressive tally.
Terry, who made his senior debut for Chelsea in 1998, recently sat down with Chelsea Magazine to discuss the achievement as well as other Chelsea-related topics. The magazine issue goes on sale next week, but here are excerpts of the John Terry interview that has been provided to World Soccer Talk. For the entire interview as well as other Chelsea-content, the latest edition of Chelsea magazine will be available to download on your tablet from January 13 at www.chelseafc.com/mobile
Q: How have you been able to maintain the same determined approach to play at the same high level game after game, season after season?
John Terry (JT): “I think it comes down to maintaining a level of performance, no matter what status you have at the club. Growing up with the likes of Michael Duberry, Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly definitely improved my game. Not only because of the way they looked after me or the education they gave me through watching them play and training with them on a daily basis — they had the time to talk to a 17-year-old who was trying to learn his trade – but also through me wanting to stay out there after sessions and wanting to improve on what they told me.
“We had good youth-team coaches around at the time as well. Ted Dale, Jim Duffy and Mick McGiven with the reserves as well as Ray Wilkins and Graham Rix – these kinds of coaches were working with me not only during training, but afterwards as well.
“I was told to work on my left foot, my heading, my speed and my quick feet and that is something we went out there and actually did.
“At that time, I was in digs away from my family and the last thing I wanted to do was go back and sit in my room, so I decided to make sure I stayed back every day and worked on my game and on every one of those attributes I mentioned.”
Q: Was it always your intention to become a ball-playing centre-half?
JT: “I remember Frank Leboeuf had the best range of passing I have ever seen and I wanted to add that to my game. Having started in midfield, I always felt comfortable on the ball and I was always good at using both feet, which – out of everything – is something I always made a point of working on, because I didn’t see too many players who could do that.”
Read: Our exclusive interview with John Terry from 2011.
Q: How important are the lines of communication between you, the captain, and the manager and players?
JT: “I am always in dialogue or contact with the manager during the game. He can probably see it a lot better than we can on the pitch, because sometimes we are so emotionally involved in things.
“I think you can feel the way the game is going physically as well. If we are getting caught time after time on the counter-attack, for example, it is a case of saying, ‘We need to get people back here to help out for 10 minutes while we regain our shape, then we can go again.’
“I think it definitely helps playing at centre-half, because it is a pivotal place to be on the field, and I think that is why you see so many captains playing there. You can get a feel for the game as well because you are in contact with the keeper and the midfielders, while the strikers are not too far away, so it works well.
“In that position, you can have a say on whether to pull players in and around you or, when you need a goal, to drive people on and push them further up the field. I have always found that kind of thing naturally within myself, but I’m probably in the best position to be able to do that as well. Sometimes you have to make that call and, while you are not always going to get it right, you like to think that nine times out of 10 you do call it right.
“Don’t forget, I have world-class players all around me and everyone has their input into how we go about doing those things. You respect each other and do what is right for the team.”
Q: How grateful are you to Jose Mourinho for the confidence he’s shown in you?
JT: “The manager was straight with me from day one. When José came in, after the first week he said, ‘For me, nothing has changed. You’re still top, you can still work and play at the top.’
“He showed faith in me, and to get that arm around you is something everyone needs, even if you are one of the more experienced players in the team. At the time the manager spoke about it, I think I needed it and, when I got that from him, it not only made me feel 10ft tall, but it made me want to work even harder for the man in charge. It makes you go to that extra level – and I would give everything for the manager.”
To read the rest of the interview, pick up a copy of Chelsea Magazine. The latest edition of Chelsea magazine will be available to download on your tablet from Monday, January 13 at www.chelseafc.com/mobile
Editor’s note: For more Blues news, analysis and opinion, visit the Chelsea team page.