John Terry yesterday claimed the support of senior players Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba has helped him keep the Chelsea dressing room together through the uncertainty which has seen five managers in charge in the space of three seasons.
Terry said Lampard and Drogba have been instrumental in keeping the team focused on getting results on the pitch, despite the atmosphere of continuous change in the coaching department. After Jose Mourinho was sacked in September 2007, Chelsea saw Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink all come and go, before Carlo Ancelotti took charge last July.
Despite that uncertainty, the club still managed to reach the Champions League final in 2008, losing to Manchester United on penalties, and won the FA Cup in 2009. They are now top of the Premier League, with a game in hand on their two main rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, who both could only draw at the weekend. Terry said the support of Drogba and Lampard meant he was able to rally the dressing room around him throughout that period of uncertainty, to ensure things did not get any worse.
The England captain said: "It has been a test for me but I think I have dealt with it, and not only me. People like Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, they deserve real credit because people hear about me but they don't tend to hear about Lamps and Didier behind the scenes.
"I can tell people that they are great and it is really important I have got their backing because we have had so many managers over the last few years and it was important that myself and Didier and Lamps kept everyone together and said, 'Listen, as long as we keep doing our job, we are going to have the fans there supporting us.' That is what matters, Chelsea Football Club, not the manager, not the players, because one day we won't be here and it is important we keep the players going and keep the belief in our club to go on and win trophies."
Terry's revelations underline how influential a figure he has become at Chelsea. The 29-year-old has become probably the most powerful player in the English game despite a spate of recent controversies, including his activities related to tours of the club's training ground and the emergence of an email from a marketing firm inviting firms to bid for his services.
Terry said he has always been a leader, and told how he proved it to former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli by criticising former team-mate Gianfranco Zola, now the manager of West Ham, during a reserve game.
Terry said: "It is one of those things where you are born like it or not, and thankfully I was blessed with that. When I was younger and we played a reserve game and Franco [Zola] gave away the ball, I shouted at him. Some of the younger players were saying, 'You can't do that'. I said, 'Why not?' Luca [Vialli] came up to me after the game and said, 'That was fantastic, no one had the guts to say that and you did'."