And so, finally, comes the end of an era. John Terry has announced he will retire from the Chelsea team at the end of this Premier League season. It marks the end of a professional career that began almost two decades ago, at a Stamford Bridge still in the throes of cosmetic surgery.
The Blues enjoyed a strong start to 1998/99, and often played the most attractive, advanced football in the league every week, even if the last top flight title of the century was not forthcoming. That October, John Terry made his Chelsea debut in a League Cup match over Aston Villa. The hard part had been done, as Chelsea led a shadow Villa side 4-1 in the final five minutes.
Yet, he was recalled from a loan spell at Nottingham Forest, in 2000, unexpectedly early. Once established in the side, he went from strength to strength – as did Chelsea once Roman Abramovich’s hot cash injection began to take effect shortly after.
Where image is concerned, John Terry’s personal life has (at times) been far from that of the ‘model professional’ which the age of PR and social media has created. Yet, players with Terry’s mentality are dying out and this can only affect the English game for the worse.
So, without further ado, we have rated the top three best, and worst, English captains we have seen in the Premier League since John Terry took the Chelsea armband from Marcel Desailly in 2003/04.
Of course, the leaders that young English players should be looking up to need not necessarily be homegrown. Whatever their nationality, good captains are eternally combative, satisfyingly loud-mouthed and ruthlessly uncompromising.
Thus, there can be no denying that John Terry has proven to be one of the last true ‘English’ captains – encapsulating all of the aforementioned traits often used by “success stories” to the benefit of his entire team and its legacy.
Just what will Chelsea do without him in the side? They’ll probably be OK, but some of these teams could have done with a better captain, we think.