The 10 Most Influential Captains of the Modern Era: John Terry
When the word “leader” or in footballing terms “El Capitano” comes to mind, one suddenly imagines a player who along with being well built, has that subtle aura around him which commands respect. With that being said, what exactly makes a captain influential?
Influential in the sense that the man in question is involved in almost every major decision that can or will affect the club. Influencing the players to believe in themselves and do everything to win is one thing, whereas standing by them and lifting their spirits at the direst of times is another. The right mixture of both though, is when we call a player a very influential captain.
John George Terry needs no introduction. He is the most successful captain to ever have led out a Chelsea team and is arguably, the best center-back England have ever had on the pitch. Apart from being an absolute rock in the Chelsea defence John Terry has even found himself some action on the other end of the field, banging in 50 goals for the club he loves.
Despite injuries knocking him down, there is no one else you would want in your defence other than a 100% fit John Terry, because a 50 % fit John Terry is better than a 110 % fit Premier League defender, as put forth by Ray Wilkins. Age might have been a problem for some modern-day defenders but never has it been a problem for Terry. His reading of the game has never faltered and in some cases, people have even gone on to say that it has improved vastly.
My blue tinted glasses will never ever let me write a tribute for a player who despite doing so much on the pitch for his team, has been a constant whipping boy for rival fans. Despite that, one can appreciate how he has been one of the most influential captains the world of football has ever seen.
Being one of the players heralded as a part of the golden generation of a country may bring pride, but with it comes immense amount of pressure on those square shoulders. Though these players, despite being superstars of the beautiful game, underachieved, the 19th of August, 2008 will forever be remembered as the day when England appointed the most controversial permanent captain in the history of football.
Steve McClaren made an infamous statement back in 2006 when asked about who would replace Beckham as captain and leader of the Three Lions:
“Choosing a captain is one of the most important decisions a coach has to make. I’m certain I’ve got the right man in John Terry. I’m convinced he will prove to be one of the best captains England has ever had.”
John Terry did not have the best of starts as skipper after England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, as the Chelsea captain bore “full responsibility” in a press conference.
His England career never glittered with silverware, but always carried a semblance of disappointment, shame and controversy. Captaining England was his childhood dream and although he retired after he’d felt that his position was made “untenable” by the English FA, he cannot hold any regrets about it because he has seen a lot worse and still persevered.
His Chelsea career, meanwhile, has never been scorched despite what has happened behind the scenes. He has always been there for Chelsea when needed and has been instrumental in their back-to-back title-winning campaigns, their-double winning campaign and the one where they achieved European glory.
Ever since the Russian oligarch took over the club in 2003, negativity and criticism has knocked on the doors of JT. The fact remains though, that rising above such circumstances is what makes a great person. If you rise above those circumstances and carry others on your back at the same time, you are a great leader. That in turn increases your influence to a level which cannot be surpassed.
John Terry led Chelsea to back-to-back titles. The pressure was on the boys in Blue after winning the first title Chelsea had laid their hands on in 50 years. They needed someone to show them the way and inspire them when everything was lost. Terry stepped up when it mattered and led them on to grab their second title in dramatic fashion. This is why he will be remembered by the squad who won so much. Terry owned up to mistakes made by the team and held himself responsible for almost every matter.
Some even have the audacity of questioning his contribution to Chelsea Football Club’s first taste of European glory. They are the same ones who forget that Terry organized the defence against Barcelona in the first leg with three broken ribs. He scored a vital header against Napoli as Chelsea defied the odds and overturned a 3-1 deficit.
He, along with Lampard and Drogba, was asked to rethink his decision about not retiring sooner by the media and pundits. What exactly would have happened to Chelsea in the UCL if the old guard had indeed said their last goodbyes a bit too early?
You can have your Hazards, Matas and Oscars but without one man who knows every blade of grass on that pitch and has poured out his blood, sweat and tears on that 113 x 74 yards of area, even the most talented of men fail to show up on the biggest of stages.
At a time where money is everything and loyalty is nothing, the Chelsea faithful can be proud that they have a captain who has been with them for over 20 years. Words would not be enough to express how influential Terry was. One of the few captains who put the club before himself. The word influence has many meanings, and can also have many factors deciding it. In the modern era though, everything that matters is what happens on the field and not off it. Controversies, scandals and hate may come and go, but for Chelsea, there will be only one Captain, Leader, Legend.
Catch the rest of this series here: The 10 most influential captains of the modern era