Chelsea Football Club has seen its fair share of legends come in the past decade. Of course, we’ve had some fantastic servants throughout our 110-year history, but things have undoubtedly been different since the Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003.
The football universe, in general, has seen a tectonic shift with regards to how money has become central to anything and everything. The players choose clubs where they get paid best, the clubs are looking to expand their stadiums to increase their revenues, and the agents are looking to sell their clients at higher prices so as to earn more themselves from the deal.
Loyalty is hard to come by, in any sense of the word. I’m not talking about Wayne Rooney, who has held Manchester United ransom on several occasions, resorting to histrionics in order to pocket higher wages. I’m not even talking about Steven Gerrard, who had to be threatened by Liverpool fans to stay at Anfield, after a deal with Chelsea was agreed back in 2005. So much for that bunkum about “winning a couple of trophies with Liverpool means more to me than winning 10 with Chelsea would have”.
Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen Frank Lampard and Petr Cech play for fierce rivals. Two players who were brand ambassadors for Chelsea left after lack of game time but chose to join clubs directly competing with us for the Premier League title. Lampard can say all he wants about how much he regrets his stint with Manchester City, but he’s far too intelligent to have not known what was going on right from the start. Cech, citing family reasons, has chosen to move across London to play for Arsenal, after spending one season on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
Last Man Standing
We have, of course, seen players show supreme loyalty to their sides. Legends like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Javier Zanetti, Francesco Totti, Paolo Maldini and Raul served their sides right to the very end. Raul did leave Madrid, but didn’t play for another club in Spain, opting to go to the Bundesliga instead.
Even Didier Drogba showed his loyalty to us by choosing not to join another English club. After stints in Turkey and China, he came back for another fairytale ending, this time winning the Premier League in his last match with the club to add to that night in Munich back in 2012.
One man, the only one, in fact, who has stood the test of time though, is John Terry. The captain walks, talks and breathes Chelsea and exemplifies exactly what the ordinary modern day football lacks. We’ve been through our fair share of highs and lows since 1998 when he made his debut as an 18-year-old, and Terry has stood by it all.
He was here before Abramovich came in, and has seen our rise from Premier League pretenders to one of the biggest clubs in Europe. His loyalty has never been in question, and neither has his quality.
When the critics have swooped down upon him, he has responded by upping his game and resoundingly showing that he still deserves to be considered one of our most important players.
Jose Mourinho said that last season was Terry’s best ever in his career. At the age of 34, that is some accomplishment. Under Rafael Benitez, he found himself on the bench a lot, and many people thought that his end was near. And with the club’s policy of only giving players above 30 one-year extensions, an exit did look on the cards.
But with the return of Mourinho has come a most stunning revival. After playing just 27 games in all competitions in the 2012/13 campaign, Terry played 47 and 49 respectively in the next two. Last year, he played every minute of every Premier League game as we dominated the race from start to finish. He also scored a staggering eight goals, a joint best tally for his entire career. At the end of it all, no one thought twice about giving him an extension.
At this rate, Terry still has some way to go before calling it quits. Whatever happens though, one thing remains for certain – he will never be associated with any other Premier League club. It is very important to understand that just as the clubs should be indebted to their players’ contribution, the players should be indebted to their clubs as well.
John Terry is the one and only Mr. Chelsea, a man who continues to inspire and lead from the front, a man who has stuck with us through thick and thin, both from an individual and a club’s perspective. For that reason only, I feel that even though Lampard’s goals or Drogba’s big-match pyrotechnics may have given us the adrenaline rushes, it is the calm and collected soldier at the heart of our defence who deserves to go down in history as Chelsea’s greatest ever player.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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