It has been a bumpy ride for the former England captain, but since the return of ‘The Special One’ to The Bridge he seems to have found a second-wind.
The 34 year old defender scored his 35th Premier League goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win against Stoke at the weekend, making that 15 consecutive seasons that he has netted in the competition. With that goal, he now sits only 3 goals behind David Unsworth on the list of the top goalscoring Premier League defenders, who is currently at the top of that list. Terry has scored 12 Premier League goals collectively in the past 3 seasons and would therefore be in good company for thinking that he may have a chance of breaking Unsworth’s record.
Aside from scoring goals, current Premier League stats compiled by Opta would suggest that Terry really is playing as well as he ever has defensively. Ten years on from when he lifted the Premier League trophy (the first Blues player to do so for 50 years since they won the then-equivalent First Division); Terry is currently beating his game-by-game totals from back then. The Chelsea skipper is currently boasting an 80% tackle success rate compared to 75% in 04/05, winning over 80% of duels per game now compared to 72%, and is remarkably averaging only 0.18 fouls per game this season compared to 0.94. This is adequate evidence to suggest that the experienced centre-half is demonstrating a more levelled-head and has matured over time.
Terry can be thankful to boss Jose Mourinho, who seems to have lifted him further away from an ever-nearing retirement. It hasn’t always been the case that John Terry has been a first-choice centre back at Chelsea, especially in recent years. Rafael Benitez, who took charge of Chelsea between 2012/13, did not show much faith in the former England international, stating in an interview that: ‘with his age, he has more experience and his understanding of the game will be better but you have people coming that will be faster and they will be stronger’. This courteously paved the way for the less-experienced pairing of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who were then being established as the first choice.
Fortunately for Terry, Benitez’s stay was brief. The ‘Special One’ arrived back on English soil after travelling around Europe and adding many more honours to his already illustrious record, returning Terry to the starting XI almost immediately. Since doing so, and with the World Cup entering the horizon, Terry’s good form did not go unnoticed by the English media.
Terry’s England career had been one filled with controversy. In 2010 Terry was stripped of captaincy by Capello following allegations he had an affair with an England team-mate’s ex-girlfriend. Terry was reinstated 13 months later with Capello saying “one year of punishment is enough”. Two years later, Terry suffered the same punishment once again, this time for being allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand (something that he was later cleared of doing by Westminster Magistrate’s Court). The decision this time went against Fabio Capello’s opinions, which later led to him parting company with The Three Lions. John Terry took similar actions and announced his retirement from international football in September 2012 after earning 78 caps, whilst being overshadowed by so much unwanted publicity.
Back to his old self now that Mourinho had returned, all seemed to have been forgotten as the World Cup fast approached, with England seemingly lacking a world class centre back to pair with Gary Cahill. Roy Hodgson and Terry himself moved quickly to dismiss the possibility of a return for the Chelsea star. This left Phil Jagielka to fill the void.
So while England fans remain uneasy about defensive troubles after a deeply disappointing World Cup, Chelsea fans can sleep much easier when thinking about how their club may fare. John Terry remains statistically one of the best defenders in the Premier League, and with Chelsea topping the table at Christmas as they did 10 years ago, the Chelsea skipper’s form may be rewarded once again.