John Terry will not be offered a new deal by Chelsea at the end of this season.
On hearing this news, my first reaction was to jump around my flat, shouting:
“The evil is gone from here, he’s gone from here! The evil is gone!”
Like Donald Pleasance does at the start of John Carpenter’s seminal slasher, Halloween.
That may be a bit of an overreaction, and not for the first time in my life. However, for much of his Chelsea career, Terry has been every bit the captain and leader that famous Chelsea banner proclaims him to be. Of course, to everyone connected with Chelsea, he is also a legend, but I doubt that many outside of Chelsea would agree with that particular sentiment.
Particularly the Ferdinand family. And Wayne Bridge.
What is true of the man once known around the world as “England’s Brave John Terry”, is that as Chelsea club captain, he became a talismanic figure. The man who was brushed aside by Freddie Ljungberg en route to our second goal in the 2002 FA Cup Final grew up to become exactly the kind of defender many observers feel Arsenal have missed over the last decade.
In my opinion, that belief neglects the fact that Sol Campbell would have been at Arsenal a lot longer than just five seasons had he not lost form and then chucked the mother of all wobblies during that infamous West Ham game in 2006. By the time Campbell chucked that mental, Arsenal were skint, Chelsea weren’t and Terry was well out of our reach.
As an aside, it’s reasonably well known that the young Terry looked up to the former Arsenal skipper although, whilst Chelsea have three words with which to define their captain, so does Martin Keown: “Adams was better”.
Anyway, partly due to Campbell’s wobbly, partly due to a relative failure to sign a commanding centre back in the intervening period, Arsenal fans have spent much of the last decade looking enviously at one of the best centre backs in the business.
For me, that is what Terry was. On his day, he still is. Of course, age has brought about a few cracks in the edifice, but – like Tony Adams before him – Terry was never reliant on his pace anyway. Physically strong, mentally tough, except when taking and missing penalties, and a good organiser, he has proved more than a match for the majority of Arsenal’s centre forwards over the last decade. He defined the term nemesis. Aside from that magical day at Stamford Bridge in October 2011, which saw John Terry, literally, prostrate before the magnificence of a red (and white) dragon called Robin.
I guess that day was so magical, because it was so rare. He could play too. In my nightmares, I still see him raking 60 yard passes down our right for Cashley to slice through our defence like a hot knife through butter.
Today, then, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. Although, as the player himself said yesterday, Chelsea are likely to splurge on a couple of new defenders, new signings come with no guarantees. They need time to adjust. They will have to do without the reassuring presence of Terry at the club. The evil has gone.
Unfortunately, our last memory of him in north London is of him triumphantly beating the badge on his chest following another masterclass in bus parking last month. He was as accomplished at driving as he was crying, that’s for sure.
But we’ll always have the memory of that 2002 FA Cup Final to keep us warm.
And the Moscow miss.
And the full kit buffoonery of 2012.