Terry returns to Valley roots keen to uphold family name

Chelsea captain's brother tells why he is hungry to take on old club with Yeovil
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Yeovil Town's collection of former non-leaguers, one-time starlets and hungry young pros has been described as the "Prove People Wrong Squad". There is Andrejs Stolcers, the Latvian international who figured in Euro 2004 but took a whacking 90 per cent pay cut to refire his career at Huish Park; there is Phil Jevons, one of many Everton strikers who did not quite convince; and there is Paul Terry, the 25-year-old elder brother of Chelsea's John, once so disillusioned with football that he trained but did not want to play. That was after being discarded, aged 18, by Charlton Athletic and told by Millwall they did not have the cash for him.

Yeovil Town's collection of former non-leaguers, one-time starlets and hungry young pros has been described as the "Prove People Wrong Squad". There is Andrejs Stolcers, the Latvian international who figured in Euro 2004 but took a whacking 90 per cent pay cut to refire his career at Huish Park; there is Phil Jevons, one of many Everton strikers who did not quite convince; and there is Paul Terry, the 25-year-old elder brother of Chelsea's John, once so disillusioned with football that he trained but did not want to play. That was after being discarded, aged 18, by Charlton Athletic and told by Millwall they did not have the cash for him.

Terry is teased by Yeovil's captain, Terry Skiverton. "He winds me up, saying he can't understand me. I used to go and do the running and so on just to keep myself fit. But that was it," Terry says. Both were then at Woking. Skiverton, 29, had been let go by Wycombe and, before that, Chelsea. A dominating, enthusiastic defender he is, though five years older, similar to Terry's brother. And it was Skiverton who coined the description of Yeovil's squad.

Terry's motivation is clear. He never, ever gave up hope of becoming a footballer even if he admits to having "fallen out of love" with the game for a while. "I didn't realise it but it affected me a lot," he says of being released by Charlton. "I tried to bottle it all up and make out it didn't bother me. But it hurt a lot, an awful lot. It was all I had wanted to do and to have that taken away ... one minute you are there, the next you are called in and told there isn't a contract. You're out. It happens and it's just about how you respond. But luckily I've got back in." Even if it took him five years and a journey through the non-leagues, with a day job as a fork-lift truck driver, to do so.

Now, for Terry, the wheel has come full circle. On Saturday he will run out at The Valley as a first-team player. Only it will be with Yeovil's green-and-white on his back as he aims to knock Charlton out of the FA Cup. That may provide him with an extra incentive even if he claims that the Cup is unimportant for The Glovers, who have won eight of their last nine games to take over the leadership of League Two. They are, nevertheless, the lowest-positioned club left in the competition.

As Terry bounds into the Yeovil canteen, the television is on. On the line is the manager Gary Johnson doing another interview. There is, says Terry, little secret to his success. "The difference is that the manager has added a few quality players [such as Jevons and Stolcers]," he says. "For us to attract players like that we must be doing something right and a lot of it is to do with the style of football. We like to get it on the ground and that definitely appeals. It certainly appealed to me."

Terry's route to Yeovil was via Dagenham & Redbridge. When he started with the Essex part-timers he was still "not enjoying" football. It took a year for that to return. The Daggers enjoyed three seasons of Cup success and were painfully close to gaining promotion from the Conference, as Yeovil did. That raised Terry's profile - as did having a brother forging a career at the top. Not that Terry minded.

"My attitude was that if it wasn't going to be me who makes it then there's no one else I would rather it be," he says. "For him to be doing as well as he is makes me so proud." However, even he admits to "a little bit" of surprise at what John has achieved - "especially as it was not until he was 17 that Chelsea converted him to a centre-half".

Until then he had been, like Paul, a midfielder back in Barking. "But he hasn't looked back," Terry says. "He just seems to get stronger and stronger." Terry has made the opposite move at times - shifting to defence, although he has recently reclaimed a midfield place following injury to Lee Johnson, the manager's son. In one of those moments of serendipity, Lee played his part in Terry's move two summers ago with the Somerset side having just won promotion to the Football League. The pair roomed together for the England non-league squad.

"His dad rang up and I answered the phone," Terry says. "I talked to him and then I pestered Lee a little bit, saying, 'Get me a move, get me a move' so he reckons it has to do with him." Nevertheless the transfer "came out of the blue" and just as Terry was training to be a driving instructor.

On the night that John Terry was with England facing Croatia in a friendly, his brother turned out for Yeovil reserves after a £20,000 move. "He was over the moon," Paul says of John's reaction. "He was so pleased because he knew how much it meant to me to get back in, to get this chance. He was delighted and said 'You deserve this, take it with both hands'."

He has done. While last season was one of adjustment, this season Terry has thrived, especially as his wife, Sarah, the sister of Charlton's Paul Konchesky, and their daughter and baby son have settled. "It's such a laid-back town, which suits me," Terry says "Obviously, things are different at the club where the mentality is 'do it' but, in town, cars even stop and let you cross the road. That never happens in London!"

Last season the Cup set Yeovil "buzzing", Terry says. Then they drew Liverpool in the third round. It proved too much of a distraction. Form suffered and play-off hopes faded. Now it's what the team is doing in the league that is causing excitement - despite Yeovil's astonishing Cup pedigree it is the first time since 1949 that they have reached the fourth round.

Terry believes he can play at a higher level - and wants to do so with Yeovil. "I always thought I could get back into it. I always believed that. If I didn't believe it then no one else was going to," he says. His contract is up at the season's end and "hopefully I will get a new one". He will not be lacking in motivation, "otherwise I might find myself in the same situation I was at Charlton, where I wasn't wanted".

That's unlikely to happen. Instead, his former club will find out just what they let go. It's time again to prove people wrong.

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