Terry, the natural born leader, courts captaincy

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The Independent Football

John Terry does not anticipate a vacancy in the near future but the Chelsea captain left little doubt last night that he would be a willing recipient when David Beckham eventually relinquishes the England armband.

John Terry does not anticipate a vacancy in the near future but the Chelsea captain left little doubt last night that he would be a willing recipient when David Beckham eventually relinquishes the England armband.

Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, is one influential voice who considers Terry to be the natural successor to Beckham after adapting to the job so successfully at Chelsea. Here, suggest Bruce and others, is another Tony Adams, and Terry appreciates the comparison.

"Yes, I am similar to Tony," said Terry. "As a boy I used to watch him and pay attention to his game. We are both from the same Essex background and grew up from nothing. We had a determination to do well and better ourselves. We have never taken anything for granted and always given 100 per cent."

They were among the qualities that persuaded Jose Mourinho to name him captain of Chelsea ahead of Frank Lampard at the start of the season. Terry recalls: "He said he wanted me to be a winner and be his skipper on the pitch. He has given me great confidence and treats me with respect.

"I have stepped up into the captaincy at Chelsea and feel privileged. I like to be a leader on and off the pitch where I'm very vocal. If somebody needs to be told something, they will be told - no matter who they are." Terry can even identify the moment when his Chelsea team-mates first detected that single-minded streak. "It was the first training session with Gianluca Vialli and I kicked him from behind," said Terry. "The lads told me 'you can't do that', but Vialli came over to shake my hand and said that's what he wanted to see." If Terry has already put down his marker for the captain's role with England, he expects to be kept waiting by Beckham.

"We have a great captain at the present time," he said. "He is special on and off the pitch and the lads have great respect for him. It will be a few years before anyone gets the armband off him."

By then, Terry will have confronted several formidable challengers for the two places at the heart of the England defence. And, despite playing as many games as the combined total of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell in recent times, he is still far from secure at international level.

Terry said: "It has gone really well for me at Chelsea. I feel I've been performing consistently well week in, week out, but I don't feel I have made the same step up and proved myself on the international stage."

While Terry waits to discover if Campbell replaces him when fit again, he is a player who felt fortunate to be recalled after Ledley King's performance against France in Euro 2004. "He played brilliantly and was unlucky not to play in the next game," said Terry. "I would have understood if the boss had said I wasn't playing."

"Hopefully I've put a doubt in Mr Eriksson's mind, but it's not only about Sol and Rio. Jamie Carragher has been fantastic, I have to be aware of Ledley and Wes Brown is back to full fitness. We have so many good centre-halves all fighting for two places."

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