Chelsea captain John Terry has revealed all after he was interviewed by former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher for the Daily Mail.
The Blues skipper, who has lifted all four of Chelsea Premier League trophies, played alongside Carragher 23 times in an England shirt, having both played at Euro 2004 and the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Firstly, the former Reds full-back spoke to Terry about the battles between the two, having clashed almost 50 times during their playing careers, both of which started in 1997.
Carragher: ‘John Terry is the best Premier League centre back of all time.’ Who said that?
Terry: (long pause) My mum, probably.
Carragher: It was me! You weren’t saying anything about pundits then, were you?! But let’s go back to 2005. You are named the PFA Player of the Year. Do you remember when you found out that Stevie (Gerrard) and I had voted for you? We saw each other at England and you seemed surprised. Was that genuine?
Terry: Yeah, of course. I didn’t have a clue. It was funny because after that, I phoned Bobby Barnes from the PFA about it. He told me I had quite a few votes and was in the running. But even then, I never dreamed of winning it. Only Paul McGrath (in 1993) and Gary Pallister (1992) had won it as defenders. I’d been struggling with my toe that year. If you have a chance of winning, they tell you to come along to the awards just in case. But I told Bobby I needed to know whether I’d won because I wouldn’t have been able to get my shoes on! Before every training session and game, I had to have an injection. So, that night, our doctor came to the hotel, gave me a jab that lasted three hours so I could get my shoes on to go on stage! As I was coming off stage, the jab started wearing off and I was thinking ‘I’ve got to get out of here!’
Carragher: I had absolute respect for you as a player but, I’ll be honest, we couldn’t stand Chelsea at Liverpool back then. Was it the same for you with us? At the end of my career, I’d played against Chelsea 45 times. You’ll be the same, as you were in all those games…
Terry: You know what, every time we got drawn together, we kept thinking ‘let’s have it’. The rivalry was there for the fans and we loved coming up against you and Stevie. It was massive. The (Champions League) semi-final in 2005. We were 30 points or something ahead of you in the table. We should have rolled you over. But the thing about Liverpool was that hunger, that fight. The fans, the passion. You and Stevie. It was everything.
Carragher: What do you remember most about that night? The Luis Garcia ‘ghost’ goal, of course, but…
Terry: (dead pan) What goal? What goal?
Carragher: The ghost goal! It’s Chelsea’s ghost, not ours! But at the end of the game, the first thing I wanted to do was go over and see you. I knew how much you had given. Every game we played was either 0-0 or 1-0. As a defender, I was going in thinking, if someone gets the better of me, that’s it.
Terry: You never forget moments like that. But don’t you think as defenders, we get nerves that midfielders and strikers just don’t get? As a defender, you have to be so mentally strong. You could have two or three games consecutively where you are at fault for a goal. As a midfielder, if you lose your runner, nobody thinks about it, do they? Lose your marker as a centre half, it’s all your fault.
Carragher: The level of concentration and intensity around those games. At the time, you just get on with it but now you look back at it and you think ‘Chelsea? Champions League semi-final?’
Terry: I can imagine what Rafa (Benitez) would have had you doing in the days beforehand, having experienced it here. We were similar (in our preparations). After the game, you are dead, aren’t you? You are blown to bits.
Carragher: I think we had a hold on you because we played you at your own game. Arsenal and Man United tried to play football against you. We wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that, we weren’t good enough. We’d knock it long to Peter Crouch or to Dirk Kuyt to pressure Ashley Cole…
Terry: How good was Kuyt in those games? You would watch him week after week and think to yourself… But then he played against us and, like everyone else, he would be a level up.
A club legend, Terry has played 78 times for his country, scoring six goals in that time. However, his time and exit from the national team was shrouded in controversy, and the defender says that he wished he reached the 100 cap milestone:
Carragher: How do you look back at your England career?
Terry: You know what, I loved it up until a certain point when everything went on. It disappointed me, more than anything. I look back on my 78 caps and I’m unbelievably proud. I was captain for two spells. It’s the biggest honour you can have in football. As a kid, it’s the thing that everyone wants. I’m just disappointed with how it ended, really. I never saw myself walking away. It took something that big to say enough is enough. Once you get to 50 caps, then 60, then 70… I had a target of 100 caps. That is all I ever wanted to do. Number one was to play for England, second was to be captain and third was to get 100 caps. I’ll watch games now and it kills me. I don’t miss being away. No chance. I get to spend time with my kids, I get to see them play. I get a few days off and have family time. But I watch England games and think ‘I could have been playing there’. I could have been there last summer. I had one more cap than Wazza (Wayne Rooney) when I retired. I would have been there or thereabouts, so that kind of eats away.
Carragher: Fabio Capello resigned in 2012 when he disagreed with the FA’s decision to take the captaincy off you. Have you spoken to him much since then?
Terry: I’m still in contact with him. It’s really strange. I didn’t have that kind of relationship with him as captain. You know what it was like — he was hard. But we still speak, we text. It’s bizarre. How he stood up for me, given the character that he was, meant everything to me. I gave everything to England. In Portugal in 2004, I missed the birth of my kids as I was away with England. I missed the best day of my life. So the way it finished saddens me, if I’m honest. It was the best thing ever, going away and representing England.
Carragher: How did you get over it then? How did you cope knowing that people last season were saying you were the best English centre half and should be playing? Did you just have to draw a line?
Terry: Definitely that. In the back of my mind, something was saying ‘come back, get to 100 caps — show a bit back at them’. That was me kind of being ‘never give up’. That’s why when I was an England player I said I would never walk away. So (to do) it was something massive. When you have gone through everything as a player, you’ve been away with them, played with injections to get through games and to get turned over, it really saddens you. The fight inside me wanted to go back and play. I wanted to get to 100 caps because I would have been captain. They told me that I’d never be captain again but if I got to 100 caps, you are captain. That was the mentality I had in every game I watched.
At present, however, Terry is currently out with an ankle injury picked up on Champions League duty. Jose Mourinho’s men have had a near-disastrous campaign thus far. They sit in 14th, having won just four of their 14 league games and crashed out of the League Cup. But, Terry has said that the club will endure their poor run of form, and the quality of the squad will lift the team back up:
Carragher: I expected domination again from Chelsea this season. That’s why it has all been such a shock. People can’t believe a team managed by Jose is having this run.
Terry: We were so good last season, teams sat off. But two games into this season and we get beat (by Manchester City). Everyone saw that and thought ‘we can give them a run for their money here’. You get beaten again and the mentality changes. Teams come and have a go at you.
Carragher: You are taken off at half-time against Man City. What do you think?
Terry: Listen, you take it in your stride. I was more shocked than anything. But I took it and went out to watch the second half. I’ve got that mentality where you go in the next day, work your socks off and think to yourself ‘right, I’ll show you’. There is no point moaning, sulking or staying in the dressing room. That’s not me. I’ve got to where I am in my career by fronting things up. So I did and I knew, sooner or later, he’d put me back in.
Carragher: Even at this stage of your career, does something like that put doubt in your mind?
Terry: Yeah, of course. It’s a game-and-a-half into the season. Against Swansea on the opening day, I thought I played well. I had a shaky 45 minutes against (Sergio) Aguero, who is one of the best strikers in the world. But if you go back to the last seven or eight games I’d played against him, he hadn’t got a sniff. Maybe I was due that. But you do lose a bit (of confidence) for sure. I think you pay more attention (to the criticism), too.
Carragher: People have been saying this year that ‘John Terry’s legs have gone’ but they haven’t gone — you never had them! I was the same.
Terry: But that’s lazy, isn’t it? You get to a stage and people say ‘that’s wrong’ but they don’t back it up. You’ve been there. You’ve played. You know your legs ain’t gone. It takes a little bit longer to recover but when you’re ready and the adrenaline pumps in, you are fine. I’ve never been quick.
Carragher: Exactly! You’ve always been towing a caravan!
Terry: (much laughter) Thanks!
Carragher: You reach a point and start to think twice about doing things that were natural rather just thinking ‘I’m doing it’…
Terry: Yeah, it’s not relying on your instincts, which you have made your name on. It (anxiety) does set in but then you hit the ground, have a couple of wins and you are fine again. But this hasn’t happened to me much in my career, so it (the attention) definitely does (have an impact). I don’t care what anyone says. It hits you a little bit.
Carragher: How do you cope with going from being a regular to not a guaranteed starter?
Terry: It’s different for centre halves. I don’t know what you think but as a midfielder, you can miss a game and come back. As a centre half, you are either playing or you’re not.
Carragher: That’s it: as a centre half, you are never going to come off and you are not going to come on if you are sub. When I was out the team under Kenny (Dalglish), I was thinking to myself ‘I could be out the team for months, here’. But, listen, this season the team hasn’t played well — what is different about the club to bad runs that you have had before?
Terry: It’s not different. The league table says it’s different but it isn’t. If you look for stuff (that is wrong) you will find it. You could sit there after a game and find a million things. I’d prefer to say ‘s*** result, let’s just move on’. I’ve had some managers who overanalyse things but nothing is there. Some will see that you have conceded goals at set pieces, so they will practise 20 corners. It does nothing. If anything, it does the opposite. It highlights things and makes people worry. So the manager (Mourinho) has just been like ‘let’s get on with it’. The quality is there, everything is there.
Carragher: The only difference is the manager hasn’t been sacked!
Terry: Listen, his stability is massive for the club going forward. What the club have done is set a precedent and said he’s the man to take us forward. He will do. This squad of players won the league last season. There is no difference. It’s a bad run of form. Really bad. When you have been at the top for so long, it’s horrible. You don’t want to go out after games, you don’t want to show your face in public. It’s that level.
The 34-year old has also spoken of what the future may hold. With his contract set to expire at the end of the current season, Terry has confirmed that he wouldn’t play for another English team, and may follow in the footsteps of former Red Steven Gerrard by moving to America. He has also named himself in his all-time Chelsea XI.
Carragher: Your contract is up in the summer. If Chelsea don’t offer you something, do you know your next move? Or are you just going to wait and see what happens?
Terry: I think I’ll wait, yeah. I don’t know at the minute. As you get older, you start to look down that route. I’m doing my coaching badges at the minute. I’m looking at TV. I’ve done some bits for Sky and BT…
Carragher: We’re after someone, you know! Are you doing anything this Monday?!
Terry: (laughs) When you have the security of those contracts for four or five years, you are fully focused on that. But when you get to those year-on-years… I was going to ask you a question, actually. When did you know you were going to call it a day?
Carragher: I knew 18 months before. As soon as I wasn’t a regular, I had 18 months left on my contract. I knew then I wanted to go. I’d worked for ITV at Euro 2012. I’d started my coaching badges — I wouldn’t say I loved it — but I’d enjoyed TV. When I met Brendan Rodgers for the first time, I told him I had 12 months left on my deal and I was going to go at the end. It was killing me training and not playing…
Terry: That’s always been my mentality. I have never known (how) players can go week after week not playing. This is the first time in my career where I have not been a regular in the team. I couldn’t see myself doing that for a year or two years. But, at the same time, I couldn’t even begin to think about being somewhere else or playing for someone else. Chelsea is my club. I’ve been here 20 years. I’ve looked into coaching. Playing-wise, (if I went) it certainly wouldn’t be here.
Carragher: So you couldn’t play for anyone else in England?
Terry: No. No chance. No chance. America, maybe. But physically I feel like I can still play. Do I want to play? Of course I do. But then decisions come in to it with your family. What if you go somewhere and it doesn’t work out? Everything else comes into play, doesn’t it?
Carragher: Do you look at your loan spell at Nottingham Forest in April 2000 with any regret? You played six games for someone else other than Chelsea. If it hadn’t been for those games, you could have been like a Maldini, Baresi, Giggs, Carragher! You know, one club men…
Terry: (laughs) It’s a funny story actually. Chelsea wanted to sell me then. They had agreed a deal with Huddersfield. After my loan at Forest, I was supposed to go to Huddersfield. Steve Bruce was their manager. Gianluca Vialli was manager here and he knew David Platt at Forest. But I did well in those games, I started five and came on in the other. Chelsea wanted more money then decided they didn’t want to sell as I’d done well. I came back and got on the bench for the FA Cup final.
Carragher: Have you been close to moving at any point since? Did it ever cross your mind?
Terry: No. There was the thing with Manchester City. They offered £29million for me in 2009 and Chelsea turned it down. I had a meeting with Roman (Abramovich) about it. I said to him, if the club accepts the offer then it tells me you don’t want me. So then you haven’t got a choice, you have got to go. But if they don’t accept the offer, it tells me everything that I need to know. Chelsea refused the offer and that was it.
Carragher: One final thing — give us your all-time Chelsea XI…
Terry: I’ve never done this before! I’m going to play 4-3-3. So we’ll say, Cech, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Ash. I’m putting myself in! (long pause) Now this is where it gets hard… Lamps… Didier (Drogba)… Robben (puffs cheeks out), (Damien) Duffer was good, wasn’t he? But it’s got to be Hazard in that position. Then Makelele, plus Zola. It’s got to be him, hasn’t it? We’d be s*** at corners but we’d be all right otherwise!