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Terry rises to another Mourinho challenge

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Chelsea's John Terry challenges Everton's Tim Howard as Howard scores an own goal

Chelsea's John Terry challenges Everton's Tim Howard as Howard scores an own goal

Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o challenges Everton's Phil Jagielka

Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o challenges Everton's Phil Jagielka

Everton's Leon Osman and Chelsea's Frank Lampard battle for the ball

Everton's Leon Osman and Chelsea's Frank Lampard battle for the ball

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta challenges Everton's Ross Barkley

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta challenges Everton's Ross Barkley

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Chelsea's John Terry challenges Everton's Tim Howard as Howard scores an own goal

Had Chelsea been playing Galatasaray one year ago, the thought of John Terry going toe-to-toe with Didier Drogba might have prompted comparisons with two ageing heavyweights slugging it out for one final payday.

Drogba had moved to Turkey after a short spell out of top competitive football in China, while Terry had become marginalised at Chelsea under Rafael Benitez and was no longer part of the club's first-choice centre-back pairing. Their days spent seriously competing on the biggest stages seemed to be coming to an end.

It says as much, then, for their sheer bloody-minded tenacity as their enduring quality that they will face each other for the first time as opponents on Wednesday with Jose Mourinho adamant that neither player is in decline.

At 33, Terry is again rated by Mourinho as the best centre-back in the Premier League. At 35, Drogba, Mourinho has warned, will carry the same threat to Chelsea as he did for Chelsea during eight historic seasons at the club. It was a fairytale for Drogba to leave Chelsea immediately after scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final, yet there is still a lingering sense of what might have been.

Mourinho clearly thinks he has more to offer as a player and, after Terry's 93rd-minute winner against Everton on Saturday, he stressed his desire to keep his remaining core of club legends. Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard are out of contract in the summer but all three will be offered a one-year extension. Drogba is also out of contract at Galatasaray, with Mourinho having previously said that he will return to Chelsea in some capacity in the future.

Of Terry and Lampard, Mourinho said: "If they get a contract in this club, which probably they will, they will do based on performance, based on the quality they are showing. It will not be because they are legends or because we owe them something or because they want to stay here at any cost."

NAGS

In the development of his supposed "little horses", Mourinho also knows the importance of Lampard and Terry, his two old nags, on occasions like Wednesday when Chelsea face Galatasaray in the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena. "That's exactly why they belong to this project," said Mourinho.

"You could say this project is a project for the future, we only want to do this project with young players that have 10 years future. No. We decided clearly from the beginning that the best way to develop the other guys is to have a nucleus of players like them."

Mourinho was also utterly dismissive of the suggestion that Terry might personally have some unfinished business with the Champions League after he missed the 2012 final through suspension.

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"John is a Champions League winner, doesn't matter if he didn't play the final. If you belong to a team, you win."

And so what of Drogba? Mourinho stressed on Saturday how Drogba will be determined to knock his old club out of the Champions League and has told his players that, for 90 minutes, friendships must be forgotten.

The manner of their late win against Everton will certainly give Chelsea momentum after a generally listless performance. It was the sort of occasion on which titles are often won, with Everton manager Roberto Martinez noting how Chelsea still know "every trick in the book". His frustration centred on how Chelsea won a series of second-half free-kicks and, having struggled to threaten Everton in open play, eventually made their breakthrough from a dead-ball situation.

"If you look at the replay, it wasn't a free-kick but that happened six or seven times," said Martinez. "When you can't break a team down, you have to be a bit more clever and dead-ball situations will give you that. It is know-how."

It is a quality that will be invaluable against Galatasaray, and especially Drogba, on Wednesday night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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