Friday 23 March 2018

Inside the minds of the men who brought the title back to Chelsea

A glimpse inside the blues' training ground in Cobham from a new book - and three of the Stamford Bridge superstars reveal their secrets to success at the highest level

John Terry - How to be a leader

"I'm living every boy's dream, I know that and I just want to make sure I give it everything and if that means a ball in the face or anywhere, I'll do it to stop a goal.

"I'll do everything I can to stop us conceding a goal -- I'm passionate about clean sheets. I hate it when we concede. I think that's just how passionate I am about it and I think I've got an understanding with the Chelsea fans and have done ever since I came through the ranks at this club.

"Being a captain as a defender, I think it's easy for us at the back to be able to see things and get people into areas that we see are dangerous.

"By doing that, we can stop other teams getting through the middle of our team and force them wide, by which time the like likes of Lamps or Essien can get back and we get our shape back.

"Then, having eight or nine players to break down rather than four or five defenders is obviously much better for us.

"So, defensively, we try and force teams and players wide and hope that the midfielders use the time that gives us to recover our shape and we stay as a solid base.

"You can never take a back seat, I would never do that anyway because it's something that's been instilled in me from a very young age and it's part of my job to get people around me going. If players are feeling tired or we have only got two days in between matches, it's part of my job and other players here to speak with everyone and make the most out of the time we have got so that we start all these games well and right.

"I had the help of Dennis Wise, Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly, players like this, when I first started, so it's great for us older players to pass our knowledge on.

"I remember Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's reaction to me when I was just coming into the team -- we always had a few ding-dongs, me and Jimmy, but he was brilliant. He'd get the hump with me in training but afterwards he'd get me in a headlock and say: 'That's brilliant, I love that, make sure you keep doing it!'"

Didier Drogba - How to be a striker

"When you play alone, you need a special preparation, a special warm-up so that mentally you are ready, otherwise you cannot play right.

"I think about what I am going to do to escape my marker, what I am going to do to score goals. I actually think about the way I am going to score my goal -- I close my eyes and try to imagine it and sometimes it doesn't happen. But most of the time when you get it in your head that you are going to score a certain kind of goal, it happens. It's funny but you create something in your head, a desire to score, an attitude and everything can go like this in the game.

"It's different with two up front, a completely different approach -- you have to think with your partner, have the same ideas as him and not think only for yourself. The most important thing is that you adapt your game to the opponent. This is the fight of the game, a mental thing.

"Normally, you shouldn't think about this, you should be strong enough to just concentrate on yourself. But you also need to look at the defender -- how is he breathing? If after one or two runs he is struggling, you say to yourself, 'Okay, I'm going to do more runs to kill him.'

"If I find a weakness in my game, I will work on it because you need to put all your chances away to win games.

"I was quite good with my left foot from a young age because I worked on it hard when I was younger. Because of Maradona, I wanted to be left-footed! It's impossible but I tried and I worked on it so I could give passes with my left foot and shoot with it like him.

"I scored some free-kicks two or three years ago but now my technique has improved so I'm more confident when I put the ball down and try to shoot.

"It goes with pace but I shoot with my leg open with my side-foot. It's the place where you hit the ball that will give it the power -- it doesn't come from the force of your leg, but the impact on the ball.

"The way you control your leg gives a different speed or trajectory to the ball so that's what I practise and I practise a lot.

"A few other players do this: Juninho did it at Lyon and Juliano Belletti can do it as well. It makes it difficult for the goalkeeper because if the ball goes past the wall, it is going downwards and curling quick."

Frank Lampard - How to be a midfielder

"You have to be a team player and, as a midfielder, you have to see the potential passes from deep and also be able to get up there and be around the opposition box -- that's what the best ones do. And as an all-round midfielder these days, you don't just have to pass and contribute, but you have to score goals.

"If I can give a lot to the team in defensive terms and make more assists or score more goals than others who play behind the frontman, then I feel like I'm doing my job.

"You also have a lot of other responsibilities as an all-round central midfielder: you need the energy to get up and down the pitch, defend and everything else. So I'm quite proud that my goal-scoring record puts me ahead of attacking midfielders, if you like. I don't class myself as an attacking midfielder because there are a lot of players out there who play with a lot less responsibility than me in midfield.

"Work hard on your weaknesses but don't forget your strengths. At an early age, advice on my game would only have come from my dad and the best thing he taught me, right from the moment I started playing competitively, was to work hard on your weaknesses. To do that you need to spot your weaknesses very early and mine were probably my stamina and my athleticism at that age -- I couldn't get around the pitch very well. So I worked very hard on that in my low teens so I could get up and down the pitch through the games and that's obviously had big benefits for me.

"My dad saw the game changing, becoming faster, even when he was playing, but more so when he'd finished. I think he saw a little bit of a lack of speed in me as a kid so he worked hard on my speed and all-round agility, which helped because it gave me a mentality to work on those things throughout my career. It also gave me a bit of extra sharpness at that time, which I think I've improved as I've got older.

"So I've always done training on individual stuff after sessions to improve on weaknesses or maintain my strengths.

"I find it's more important to get those extra bits of training in than it is to save myself at times, even if it does mean that I'll feel slightly tired some evenings in the week. I'd rather know I've been working on the things I need to work on, such as shooting with my left foot and extra running.

"I've found that if you work on things a lot in training then you become lucky in games -- balls fall to you and stuff like that. So if I run up and down a lot during the week and then arrive in the box to score in the 90th minute, I feel as though the practice has helped me to get that bit of luck. I suppose I think practice makes you lucky and I'll probably continue to do that extra training until I can't play any more."

Nick Broad - What the stars eat

"We have the Chelsea way of eating. The strategy is this: one third of the plate for any meal should be protection foods, one third energy foods and one third repair foods -- and there should be a healthy fat source within that meal.

"Within the group of energy foods (carbohydrates), we tend to talk about brown grains versus white grains. We want to drive more B vitamins into the players' bodies and these are more prevalent in brown grain than in white grain.

"As for repair food groups (proteins), we want meat that is 'lean and clean', meaning free-range organic meat and trimmed of any visible fat.

"Within the group of protection foods (vegetables, minerals and fibre), we look for seasonal and locally grown produce, so our vegetables come from a farm that is 12 miles away and the players eat them less than 24 hours after they have been picked from the ground.

Irish Independent

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