John Terry captained Chelsea for the 500th time on Saturday - is he the best centre-back in the Premier League era?

The 33-year-old marked 500 games as captain of Chelsea

Click to follow
The Independent Football

John Terry marked 500 games as captain of Chelsea at the weekend and can claim to be one of the top centre-backs of the Premier League era; but is he the best?

The former England captain is an almost universal hate figure for non-Chelsea fans. His on and off the field antics have often clouded judgement over his ability as a defender.

Terry's main weakness, critics would say, is his lack of speed. But it is hard to count the occasions when Terry has been exposed by quick strikers. Bar the obvious spell under Andre Villas-Boas when Chelsea were playing a fatally flawed high line, punctuated by Theo Walcott's goal in a 5-3 Arsenal win at Stamford Bridge, Terry has never had much trouble dealing with quick players.

John-Terry.jpg
John Terry has helped Chelsea win every trophy available

Sure, Chelsea often played a defensive system in their glory years helping Terry's weakness, but the 33-year-old was always a reason for their defensive strength, not a product of it.

Terry has always been perceived as a bit of a plodder when on the ball, because he doesn't bring the ball out of defence, but he is an exceptionally two-footed footballer.

Watch him closely during a game and Terry will show off a range of passing with either foot. Playing on the left side of the defence for much of his career, he is as adept with his left as he is with his right.

His ability as an organiser for the Blues is unquestioned - Chelsea have always looked much better with their captain in the side than when he has missed matches.

One other extremely undervalued trait he can hold over other defenders is his ability in the opposition penalty area. Terry has 57 career goals for the Blues (in all competitions), far outweighing the records of other players on this list. Tony Adams is closest with 47, while Jamie Carragher has more own goals (eight) than goals in the right end (five).

chels.jpg
Terry's goalscoring record far outweighs that of his rivals

Alongside Ricardo Carvalho Chelsea produced the best defensive partnership seen in a single season, as the Blues conceded just 15 goals in 38 matches in 2004-05, the club's first title win in 50 years.

Terry is the only defender since Paul McGrath in 1992-93 to be voted the PFA players' player of the year (though Nemanja Vidic and Vincent Kompany have been named the Premier League Player of the Season in recent years) and was named by former Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen in his all-time Premier League XI.

He has has only been named in the PFA Team of the Year three times, and not since 2005-06, a perverse record for a player of his talents, but also indicative of his deep unpopularity.

Terry is actually more respected in Europe and on the world stage where he has been maned in the FifPro World XI five times and the Uefa Team of the Year four times.

18.pa.jpg
Terry is arguably the least popular player in Premier League history

But Terry may well be the least popular player in the division's 20-year history; only Roy Keane rivals the 'captain, leader, legend'. But if one was to remove all bias, then perhaps Terry, who was arguably the best defender in the Premier League last season and is still captain of the Premier League's only unbeaten team, deserves to get close to the top.

--

TERRY'S RIVALS

Tony Adams

The player who most closely resembles Terry's style of play, Adams was a brave, committed defender in the Premier League and in the final days of the old First Division. A fantastic player and captain for both club and country, Adams helped Arsenal win four titles (two of those in the Premier League) as well redefining himself as a ball-playing defender under Arsene Wenger.

Wenger-Adams.jpg
Tony Adams helped Arsenal to four league titles

Sol Campbell

Powerfully built and more than capable on the floor, Sol Campbell was a pivotal part of the dominant Arsenal team of the early 2000s, and the invincibles team, after moving from north London rivals Spurs. Also helped Portsmouth to FA Cup glory.

497188.bin
Campbell was a key part of the Invincibles (not pictured)

Jamie Carragher

The Liverpool stalwart played in more Premier League games (508) than anyone else on this list. His longevity alone earns him a deserving place, though he may be a level below the other defenders mentioned here.

Jamie-Carragher.jpg
Jamie Carragher has played in more Premier League games than any other centre-back

Rio Ferdinand

An extremely gifted defender in and out of possession who is only starting to slow down now at the age of 35. Helped Manchester United win six Premier League titles as well as being named in the Team of the Year six times. No discernible weakness until injuries robbed him of his pace.

Rio-Ferdinand.jpg
Ferdinand won six Premier League titles with Manchester United

Sami Hyypia

After arriving at Anfield in 1999 the giant Finn became a dominating presence in the Liverpool backline. He helped the club to five trophies in the 2000-01 season and the Champions League in 2005. He was also twice named in the PFA Team of the year.

170630.bin
The dominant Finn won five trophies with the Reds in 2001

Ledley King

What might have been. Arguably the most talented English defender to emerge in the last 20 years, King had all the attributes needed to be one of the very best. Sadly he suffered a series of injuries that stopped him from training - but he still managed to be one of the best around at Tottenham.

ledley-king.jpg
Ledley King was a supreme talent despite injury problems

Vincent Kompany

For all the hundreds of millions of pounds Manchester City have spent in their quest for the title, Vincent Kompany, bought as a £6m defensive midfielder from Hamburg, has been their best bit of business. Along with Terry he is easily the most dominant defender still playing in the division and could top this list if he remains at City in years to come.

Kompany.jpg
Vincent Kompany is arguably Manchester City's best buy

 

Jaap Stam

One of the best defenders the Premier League has seen, helping United to the treble in 1999, but played less than 80 games in the division; would probably be the outright winner had he played longer in England.

Jaap-Stam.jpg
Stam played less than 80 Premier League games but is still considered one of the best

Nemanja Vidic

The mountainous Serbian rose to become Manchester United captain and became one of the most dominant defenders during his time in the division. He too had a lack of pace that was exposed from time to time.

p74-vidic.jpg
Nemanja Vidic dominated in the heart of the Manchester United defence

Vote for the best centre-back in Premier League history

Please allow a moment for the vote to load

Vote closes at 5.45pm

Comments