Sunday 25 August 2019

John Giles: John Terry's only footballing flaw is vanity but he was a truly great defender

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John Terry changed into his full kit to lift the European Cup
John Terry changed into his full kit to lift the European Cup

John Giles

John Terry is not everybody’s cup of tea but I have no hesitation in nominating him as one of the greats of English football and I mean all-time greats.

His only footballing flaw is vanity and it was this which made him tog out on that fateful night in Munich when Chelsea won the Champions League and lift the trophy as captain even though he hadn’t played.

It’s the same source for his comments after the weekend when Antonio Conte wrapped up the title and mostly without Terry’s help.

Terry (pictured) said he was delighted to have the dream end to his Chelsea career with his fifth title. He hardly kicked a ball all season.

As far as Terry’s off-field behaviour, that’s another facet of his personality which is hardly appealing but purely in football terms, he was a warrior, a leader and a truly great defender.

He was Jose Mourinho’s right-hand man, enforced discipline and ladled out inspiration on demand.

Of course, nobody ever said you had to be a nice guy to be a great player.

A glance at Terry’s CV is all that is needed to supply the substance of how good a player Terry actually was.

You don’t win five Premier League titles (even if the latest one is something of a reach), five FA Cups, three League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League unless you have something about you.

Apart from running Mourinho’s team, Terry was the constant throughout all the turmoil and upheaval caused by Roman Abramovich’s meddling.

Terry won’t be around to help if he starts messing with Antonio Conte this summer and don’t rule it out.

We’ve all seen the ominous reports of a split between Conte, who wants to buy Alvaro Morata this summer, and director of football Michael Emenalo who wants Romelu Lukaku.

It seem like madness that anyone would oppose Conte but such is Chelsea and Terry has done as much as anyone to keep players hungry and competitive no matter what was going on around them.

He held the group together when Roberto Di Matteo was appointed caretaker manager following the sacking Andre Villas-Boas, who was sacked just eight months into the job.

That season, Chelsea won the FA Cup as well and sure, Terry made a fool of himself in Munich, stripping off in full kit to lift the European Cup despite not playing a minute of the final due to suspension.

He clearly believed that it was all down to him.

To some degree, he was right and there’s no doubt, Chelsea have an awful lot to thank Terry for given the fact that he cost nothing.

Should he quit now? Nobody should ever tell a footballer to stop while he still believes he can do a job but Terry is done, I think, at the top level and if he wants to play on, he might have to settle for mid-table or a big payday in China.

Either way, he has been a great player and I’m talking well up among the very best defenders that have played the game in England.

There haven’t been too many in the modern era and Terry stands out as one of the best of them.

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