The pain of an injury to his foot was fleeting for John Terry. A quick scan revealed no damage to the bones, nor to the Chelsea defender's hopes of playing in England's opening World Cup match against the United States in just four weeks' time.
A relieved Terry said yesterday: "I was just running back to goal and Daniel Sturridge fell on top of me. My foot was caught underneath. I thought it was quite bad initially. I was a bit scared, I must say. But once I had the scan, it was just bruising and today there was no problem at all."
England supporters on radio phone-ins and in chat rooms had expressed the fear that Terry's desire to play through pain in tomorrow's FA Cup final with Portsmouth, having already lifted the Premier League trophy last weekend, might lead to further damage. Terry, and his manager Carlo Ancelotti, were categorical yesterday that there was no danger of that happening as the 29-year-old is fully fit.
Terry did however talk about playing through another kind of pain. On the eve of his chance to become the first captain in Chelsea's history to complete the Double, Terry admitted he still had not recovered from the agony of the 2008 Champions League final defeat to Manchester United in Moscow, when he slipped and missed the spot-kick that would have won Europe's major prize. The Champions League remains the one trophy to elude Chelsea since Roman Abramovich started throwing his fortune behind the club in 2003, and the near-miss in 2008 still rankles.
"Nothing will ever make up for Moscow unless we go there and win it in my lifetime. That's a fact," Terry said after training yesterday. The depth of Terry's angst over that defeat is a reminder that, despite the great strides taken by the club this season under Ancelotti, the inability to land the Champions League remains an itch the club have yet to scratch.
Could that offer just a glimmer of hope for Portsmouth, who go into tomorrow's final as rank outsiders at odds of 12-1? That Chelsea may not be "up for it" as much as their opponents?
The suggestion was dismissed out of hand by Terry. "Portsmouth may have been relegated but nobody here is taking the game lightly," the Chelsea captain said. "They have had a few good results towards the end of the season. I have spoken to Jamo [David James] as well and they are up for the game and looking forward to it. They will have nothing to lose and will have great support there as always. We know it will be really tough.
"Mentally, we are not thinking our season's over. We have a massive game at Wembley, which as an Englishman, they don't come much bigger than the FA Cup final. On its own, it's a special occasion anyway. With us winning the league on the last day of the season, and it going right to the wire, there has been a lot of hype about it, we can do this, we can do that. But it's in our hands now. If we play as well as we can do then with the players we've got, we've got a good chance. But by no means, are we going to be taking the game lightly."
Terry's words are backed up by the club's deeds. They are the current FA Cup holders, and have won it in two of the last three seasons. There is no doubt they take the FA Cup seriously, even though recently it has only been something of a consolation prize for them.
The club's pride in winning the FA Cup is something Ancelotti has adopted during his 10-month reign at the club. The Italian admitted yesterday that he had been unaware of the FA Cup's tendency to throw up unexpected results, a fact that makes him even warier of tomorrow's final.
"I didn't know before this season how the FA Cup was important for every club," he said." It's the oldest competition in this country. There was a lot of surprises, a lot of little teams played important games, Leeds beat Manchester United, Liverpool lost to Reading. So this means we have to play. On paper we have more quality, more possibility, but we have to play and if Portsmouth play well, they could win.
"My players know very well how they have to prepare for this game. For us, it's a great opportunity to win the Double for the first time for this club and we can do this."
Ancelotti's only fitness concern is over full-back Branislav Ivanovic, who has a knee problem, and could be replaced by Paulo Ferreira.Reuse content