Terrace Talk: Terry still wakes up three or four times a year with Moscow nightmares

As John Terry confirmed a contract extension for another season, the Chelsea Pitch Owners hosted an evening with the Blues captain. Chelsea fan Trizia Fiorellino was there.

 

It was a celebration of his career which included a surprisingly candid extensive interview on stage with former Chelsea player Jason Cundy.

Terry obviously felt comfortable and amongst friends, which he certainly was, and so was surprisingly honest, as Cundy skillfully escorted him through his career starting at the very beginning when he signed professional papers with the London club.

He recalled how he had a straight choice between Manchester United and Chelsea. His father and the majority of his family were United fans but despite the on-field chasm between the clubs in those days, Terry explained how he had felt at home at Chelsea from the very beginning.

His father did not take his decision well and on the day that Terry was due to sign his papers on the pitch at Stamford Bridge, Ted Terry was demanding to see then manager Glen Hoddle to try and stop his son signing.

JT remembers crying in the tunnel following the row with his father but defied him anyway and signed the papers with his mum by his side. His father is in no photos of the day and the Chelsea captain said it was a “very quiet drive home”.

Those early days weren’t straightforward. Terry enjoyed a loan spell at Forest, but it also focussed his mind that he wanted to play at the highest level. So he trained hard there but on his days off would return to London to train with Chelsea too.

He spoke highly of the influence that Graham Rix and Ray Wilkins had on him and later Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf. Terry would stay behind well after training had ended, practicing with Rix and Wilkins trying to hone his skills, something he says that youngsters these days seem loath to do.

He is still in contact with Marcel Desailly to this day, and said that the former French captain gave him advice every day on how to improve and told him not to worry if that meant that Terry even usurped his own place in the team - that he just had to give it his all and be the best that he could be.

Humble is not a word you would associate with today's footballers, but that is exactly how Terry came across, especially when asked about how it felt to be regarded in the “elite” band of players.

He recalled how he never thought he was, how he was awestruck by some of his team-mates and how he didn't feel he could even come close to the very top level until he was voted POTY by his peers - an honour that remains unrivalled he feels.

Cundy then moved Terry onto the Abramovich era. JT was on a golf course when news broke of the Russian buying the club - the players had been as much in the dark as everyone else but he remembers that the impact was immediate. Talk of amazing new facilities, expectations of the new owner, major changes etc - exciting times.

Terry remembered his first meeting with Mourinho. The Special One's appointment had only just been announced when Jose turned up at the England hotel to speak to the Chelsea players. John Terry said he knew there and then that this man was going to make them winners.

Mourinho made them fitter physically, but more importantly, mentally stronger. When they walked out on that pitch for that first game against United - Terry insists they did not simply feel equal to them but superior to them - Jose made them feel like the best players in the world.

Mourinho installed Terry as his captain and honour Terry was obviously proud of. But more acutely, he felt he carried the weight of the fans’ expectations on his shoulders. Rather than feel pressured by that, he thrived on it; it gave him even more reason to work harder to give his all every time he pulled on the shirt. It also gave him the hope of possibly one day becoming England captain.

Terry went on to speak eloquently of his hurt following last month’s Champions league exit to PSG, the exhilaration of scoring against Barca, being knocked out in the cup final against Arsenal and waking up in the ambulance and asking the driver to put the radio on for the score - then discharging himself from hospital to go and celebrate the with the team.

Terry and the team were devastated when Mourinho left - he admits it took them a while and him especially to get over it.

But the thing that keeps him awake at night is that missed penalty in Moscow. He has never got over it, never will get over it, still wakes up three of four times a year thinking about it. Yet he is philosophical about his absence from the Munich final. It was not meant to be, but it was meant to be that Chelsea won it.

He is especially honest when asked about the managers he has seen come and go. Avram Grant did nothing, changed nothing, he says. Scolari had arguments early on with Drogba and Lampard and lost the dressing room soon after. He got on well with Ancelotti and Villas-Boas but not so Benitez.

The Chelsea captain knocked on the interim manager's office door and asked to speak to him about perhaps putting out a statement to diffuse some of the comments the Spaniard had made in the past about the club and the fans. Benitez was furious and not only refused but Terry believes he held it against him from that day onwards.

Terry claimed the Spaniard did not get on with the rest of the team either and insists there was a collective sigh of relief when he went and joy on Jose's return.

Terry related an anecdote of being on holiday and getting some grief from a couple of Spurs fans. He ignored them but his young daughter was having none of it and proceeded to sing a Stamford Bridge favourite chant which includes lines about Terry winning the double - although the Chelsea captain claims to have stopped her before the bit about Tottenham winning f**k all again.....

Much laughter....but then the serious question....are we going to win the league. He diplomatically says that the international break will serve the team well for the run-in.

The interview ended to a standing ovation but John Terry isn't whisked away by some faceless Chelsea PR guy. Instead he stays until every one of the 250 people in that room have the picture or autograph they want - making every one of those fans, including me, feel important - as if we matter.

Terry is from the old school who cleaned toilets and boots as an apprentice - worked hard, learnt from his peers and it shows. We should appreciate him and players like him as in these days of multi-million pound deals for 14-year-olds we won't see many of their like again.

Our captain, our leader, our legend.


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