Bengaluru, April 17: John Terry maybe 37 years old and third on Chelsea’s list of all-time appearances, but the veteran has not lost the fire in his belly, making his 800th career start last weekend.
He has become an essential part of Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa side leading them with character and experience in a league that was an unknown territory for him a few months ago.
Leaving the club he loved:
Terry left Chelsea at the end of last season in which he made only five league appearances as The Blues went on to win a fifth Premier League title. There were reports of tension between him and the new manager Antonio Conte. After awarding him a one-year contract in 2016, the club decided not to extend it further, paving the way for Terry’s departure. Chelsea's Captain Courageous won five Premier league titles, Five FA cups, the Champions League and Europa League in his 717 appearances over 12 years at the South-West London Club.
In search of a new challenge:
At an age where others had hung their boots up and settled behind cameras away from the rigorous on field action, the ex-England captain had a clear desire to continue playing. In his farewell speech, he stated that he would never play against the only club he truly loved. This opportunity was pounced upon by Chinese club Shanghai Shenshua then managed by Gus Pouyet , who were offering a 15 million pound annual salary. The move broke down only for a rule change in the Chinese Super League allowing only three foreign players to feature in a team. Instead, Terry moved to Birmingham club Aston Villa later stating that maintaining the stability of his young family was his priority above everything else.
Surviving the Championship:
The Championship is a grueling and physical league and it would have been no surprise if Terry, this late in his career struggled to meet the demands. But John Terry was never your typical player, he fought for his place, trained as hard as he could and even hired a private dietician, in due course becoming one of the first names on the team sheet. He still puts his body on the line as a defender and has a never-say-die attitude, which the Villa fans have taken to their hearts.
Inclusion in the Team of the Season:-
Terry has made 31 appearances for Villa this season while also sustaining a metatarsal fracture which kept him out for 10 games. Overall, Terry has helped Villa to keep 12 clean sheets so far. He has won 59 per cent of his aerial duels, 2.7 per game and has at least nine defensive contributions in every game. He has even scored a goal in his trademark Header style against Fulham and as a result of these positive performances he merited the centre-back position in Championship’s Team of the season.
With promotion in sights Villa would surely want to extend Terry’s contract but the player’s desire to not play against Chelsea may affect his decision. The Premier League wants John Terry back but does he want to come? Only time can tell.