Why Chelsea's John Terry deserves place alongside Maldini and Baresi

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There is much about Terry to be likened to even the legendary figures of Maldini and Baresi.

When you hear the name, ‘John Terry’, you immediately associate it with an incredible defender and inspirational captain who’s led admittedly expensively assembled Chelsea sides to many a trophy over the years.

However, you can’t help but also be reminded of the less endearing aspects of his often questionable character. The racism allegations, the infidelity, the Wayne Bridge handshake that never was and on a lighter note, his infamous swift wardrobe change after the Champions League final in 2012 that went viral as it inspired several memes that flooded the internet.

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While we all had a good laugh at the doctored images of Terry celebrating alongside the likes of Usain Bolt, Andy Murray and even the Royal Family, the unfortunate yet inescapable reality is that the negative impact of the more distasteful events that he’s been at the centre of has affected his reputation as a footballer.

But if we were to take a moment and strip away the misconducts, if we were to focus solely on the fantastic footballer and his insatiable desire to win, his achievements are nothing short of extraordinary.

To begin with, Terry is Chelsea’s most successful captain by miles. Since first pulling on the armband in 2004, he’s led the Londoners to four league titles, four FA Cups, a Champions League crown and a Europa League trophy.

His ability as a defender has always shone through. There’s no better organiser of a defensive line and his commanding presence lifts the performances of those around him. He’s tenacious in a tackle, reads the game exceptionally well, is unequivocally dominating in the air and has the ability to carry the ball forward.

His outstanding performances naturally merited recognition and the individual accolades have inevitably piled up. He was named Europe’s Club Defender of the Year thrice and was voted the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2005.

However, the appreciation he’s received at Chelsea is unrivalled. He’s been named the club’s Player of the Year in 2001 and 2006. A banner hangs inside Stamford Bridge that encapsulates the fans’ feelings towards him, proudly proclaiming of their skipper, ‘Captain. Leader. Legend.

His combative style of defending has always endeared him to the fans while his uncanny knack for scoring crucial goals, invariably by means of a trademark header, is something that will forever separate him from most central defenders.

Indeed, Terry is now the league’s all-time leading goal scoring defender with a remarkable 39 efforts to his name. The fact that none of those goals were penalties or free-kicks only makes the feat all the more impressive.

He is no stranger to adversity either. His untimely slip during the penalty shootouts against Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final was the stuff of nightmares for someone who’s a Blue through and through.

He shed more than his fair share of tears as the rain pelted down on that fateful night in Moscow and watched on as United lifted the coveted ‘big ears’ trophy but that only fuelled his desire to push on and succeed, standing testament to his mind-set as a fierce competitor. 

Terry began his career as an intelligent and dedicated individual with a thirst for knowledge. Renowned France centre-back, Marcel Desailly was the man particularly barraged with the then 18 year-old’s questions as he took him under his wing.

if we were to take a moment and strip away the misconducts, his achievements are nothing short of extraordinary.

That dedication to the game has held Terry in good stead even today as it’s enabled him to keep performing at the highest level 16 years on. When Andre Villas-Boas took over the reins at Stamford Bridge in 2011 and employed a high defensive line, Terry’s lack of pace saw him exposed time and again.

Many believed his career to be in its twilight stage then before Roberto Di Matteo’s regime returned him to prominence. However, his replacement, Rafa Benitez took a different stance as he believed the Chelsea skipper was useful but could only be employed sparingly, hinting yet again that his retirement was on the horizon.

Ever since Jose Mourinho retained his post at the helm in west London though, Terry’s retirement is nowhere in sight. In fact, he’s proved his doubters wrong and emphatically so, becoming only the second outfield player to feature in every minute of a Premier League title-winning season.

Yes, on the basis of his football career with Chelsea alone, there is much about Terry to be likened to even the legendary figures of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi. Like the Englishman, the Milanese stars were both one-club men, inspirational captains and fabled defenders.

English football hasn’t seen a defender and leader in his mould since the likes of Tony Adams and Bobby Moore. Terry is the kind of defensive talent and headstrong character that should be celebrated across the nation. Instead, he’s a target at every away ground in the country as his misdemeanours have supplied opposition fans with plenty of ammunition.

Despite being the best defender in England this season, his relatively early retirement from international football amidst scrutiny and criticism ensuing from the incident with Anton Ferdinand means that he’s unavailable to the national team as they attempt to usher in a new era. The 34 year-old’s experience and leadership would’ve been a major asset to Roy Hodgson’s young squad.

John Terry is the greatest defender to grace the Premier League’s stage, of that there can be no dispute. His quality alone secured him a place among the best defenders to play the beautiful game but when the curtains do finally come down on his illustrious career, it’s his sustained influence and remarkable longevity that must see him regarded alongside the Maldinis and Baresis in the pantheon of football.

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Dyke and Figo lead dissenters as Blatter retains FIFA presidency

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Fifth term: Sepp Blatter.

English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says he would be “very surprised” if Sepp Blatter was still FIFA president in two years.

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Blatter saw off the challenge from Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan after a week which saw seven FIFA officials arrested and 18 people connected to football indicted on corruption charges by the US justice department.

The Swiss won the first round by 133 votes to 73 and, after Prince Ali decided to withdraw ahead of the second round, the 79-year-old was installed as FIFA president for another four years.

Earlier, Dyke backed the idea of a co-ordinated European boycott of the World Cup – and speaking after the vote in Zurich, he said: “This is not over by any means.

“To quote the Attorney General this is the beginning of the process, not the end. The idea Blatter could reform FIFA is suspect. I’d be very surprised if he was still in this job in two years time.”

Luis Figo withdrew his candidacy last week – and the former Portugal international was scathing in his criticism of Blatter after the vote.

He said: “This vote has only served to endorse the election of a man who can’t remain in charge of world football. Mr Blatter…being re-elected – that shows exactly how the organisation is sick.

“Today was another dark day in Zurich. FIFA has lost, but above everything, football has lost and everyone who truly cares about it has lost too. Mr Blatter had a very cynical reaction when he said that he couldn’t control everyone. It offends everyone’s intelligence.

“If he was minimally concerned about football, he would have given up on re-election. If he has a modicum of decency, he will resign in the next few days.”

UEFA president Michel Platini reiterated his desire for change within FIFA, while congratulating 39-year-old Prince Ali for his “admirable campaign”.

Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the German Football Association (DFB), who had also supported the Jordanian prince, said senior European figures had hoped for a change of leadership within FIFA.

“After the events of last week, a headwind had been felt, but at the end it wasn’t strong enough to bring about the desired change amongst us,” said Niersbach, who was voted onto FIFA’s executive committee yesterday. “There was a prevailing impression within UEFA that Prince Ali had a chance.”

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Wenger looking to the future ahead of FA Cup final

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Optimistic: Wenger.

Arsene Wenger will continue to look to the future, rather than reflect on past glories, if Arsenal can win his sixth FA Cup in Saturday’s final with Aston Villa.

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The Frenchman ended his nine-year trophy drought in last season’s final with Hull and hopes Arsenal can complete a successful defence at Wembley. Wenger is bidding to become the first manager in the post-War period to win six FA Cups, a feat matched by only George Ramsey, who won the last of his with Villa in 1920.

The 65-year-old insists personal glory is not his motivation and he does not even know where to find his previous winners’ medals from a glory-laden 18-year career at Arsenal.

“I heard you so much telling me that we don’t win anything that I’m quite surprised I am suddenly on the other side of it,” said Wenger, whose position was under scrutiny last term.

“Honestly I don’t look at it in a personal way. Maybe I will if we win. If you ask me now ‘show me a medal’, I don’t know where they are. I am not a collection man. I am always focused on what’s next.” 

Wenger, who first won the FA Cup in 1998, has big decisions to make in terms of team selection and next season. He hopes England internationals Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere play a big role, but was not prepared to confirm their places in his first-choice XI.

“You cannot explain to 10 players individually that they do not start,” Wenger said. “You have to make your decisions and the whole squad has to focus on doing it because most of the time the heroes are the guys who come on.

“I want Walcott to play through the middle and I want both of them to stay here. He has not played since November, Jack. That is five months, six months.

“We always stood by him in every difficult moment. Does that mean we want him to stay here for a longer period? Yes, we would like to benefit from his talent now. Walcott is similar. He has been out for a year (with a knee injury). You want them to stay.” 

Walcott, who scored a hat-trick in last weekend’s Premier League-concluding defeat of West Brom, and Wenger are in agreement that the 26-year-old’s future lies as a central striker.

“The quality of his runs and his finishing is top class,” Wenger said. “He can play on the flank, he can play through the middle. But I think in future he will play more through the middle.”

Wenger will hope there is no “nightmare” start for Arsenal this time after last year conceding twice in the opening eight minutes before rallying against Hull.

“All the fans came full of hope and after 10 minutes we are 2-0 down,” he said. “With the pressure on it was really a nightmare. (But) I was ready to fight until the end. We have learnt a lot from last season and let’s show that on Saturday.”

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