Unaffected by England talk, Chelsea's rock was as solid as ever for his club
Thursday 17 March 2011
Fabio Capello may have become a John Terry fan again, but those Chelsea supporters sitting in the Matthew Harding stand at Stamford Bridge have never lost faith in their man. Capello is to reinstate Terry as England captain for next week's game against Wales, but to many Chelsea supporters he should never have lost the job in the first place.
Terry's appearance in the pre-match warm-up last night was greeted by a chorus of "There's only one England captain" from the home support, a chant they sang repeatedly long before, and after, their hero had been stripped of the job by Capello. The banner draped from the top tier of the Matthew Harding stand reads "JT Captain, Leader, Legend" – his standing at Chelsea has not been tarnished, despite the battering his reputation took a year ago.
To them it matters little what he got up to with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend; it matters more that he remains the one player who has managed to rise from the club's much-derided youth system and ended up being good enough not only to take his place among the star names recruited by Roman Abramovich to win the Premier League, but to become their captain.
Terry acknowledged the chant with a brief round of applause, and then on with the job he was doing last night for the 371st time, captaining Chelsea, the only club he has played for. He was first handed the Chelsea armband by Claudio Ranieri for a league game against Charlton Athletic in December 2001, when he was just 20 years old, and it was not long before it became his possession on a permanent basis.
Since those days, Chelsea have risen to the very top of the European game, thanks to Abramovich's roubles, but throughout it all Terry has remained a constant. Pretty much everything else about Chelsea has changed in the past decade.
There have been those around the club who suggest the skipper has too much power within the dressing room. Claude Makélelé suggested in his autobiography that Jose Mourinho lost his job when he tried to drop Terry from the team in 2007, a claim that Terry strenuously denies.
He retained the trust of manger Carlo Ancelotti throughout the media scrum that followed allegations of a liaison with Bridge's former lover, and the embarrassment of being filmed by a secret camera giving unauthorised guided tours of the club's Cobham training ground.
Those within the club, however, have maintained that Terry's authority has not been diminished by the scandals. Michael Ballack said recently, after leaving the club last summer, that Terry was an outstanding captain whose positive influence over the team was unaffected by last season's revelations.
Now it seems that it is to be put behind him, with Capello's impending decision to reinstall Terry as captain of England.
The visit of Copenhagen was never likely to be a testing occasion for Terry, and although the visitors were far from overawed, they never looked like pulling off an unlikely victory. Partnered last night by the Serbian international Branislav Ivanovic, Terry did what was needed, keeping the visiting attack, led by the Senegalese striker Dame N'Doye, at bay and providing the added aerial threat from set pieces. He rose high to win a clean header from a Frank Lampard corner in the 79th minute, but his attempt flew over the bar.
The Danish champions were admirably adventurous, but Chelsea's defence was simply too strong, and it was the Premier League champions who created by far the better, and more numerous, chances to score.
At the end, Terry exchanged high-fives with team-mates before acknowledging the crowd by patting the Chelsea badge on his chest.
The last eight
Barcelona, Chelsea, Internazionale, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham Hotspur.
Draws for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final take place tomorrow at 11am in Nyon. Teams can be drawn against another side from their own country.
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