When most people think of English defenders they think of no nonsense beasts willing to put their body on the line for the cause. Not many sights make an English football fan more proud than seeing one of their warriors sporting a blood stained bandage wrapped around their head.
For perhaps the most committed defender to ever represent the three lions think Terry Butcher and his never say die attitude. John Terry certainly fit’s into this category.
In an age where football is becoming dominated by a passing style that is easy on the eye, John Terry still stands out. Certainly not a name that you would associate with the fashionable tika-taka style of football the Chelsea and England star has enjoyed huge success with his passionate battling displays. Look no further than last years unexpected Champions league triumph for evidence of that.
Despite off field controversies, involving affairs and alleged racial abuse, Terry has always bounced back and hushed critics where it matters most: on the pitch. Since inheriting the armband from Marcel Desailly, during Mourinho’s tenure, he has become the most successful club captain in Chelsea’s history, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a UEFA Champions League since 2004.
Since his international debut in 2003 he has been unable to match the same tangible success with the national team. Accruing 78 caps and scoring six goals,
Terry will be regarded as an inspirational lynchpin that will forever decorate lists that debate the ‘greatest ever England defenders.’
There remain defenders in the Premiership that are of a similar combatant ilk to Terry, the likes of Vidic, Huth, Dunne, Kompany, Skrtel and Haangerland, but none of them are English.
Out of the likely contenders looking to cement a place in the void left by Terry’s international retirement, a tactic that smacks of jumping before pushed, none are of the same mould. If you consider Jagielka, Lecott, Dawson, Cahill and Jones as best fitting that birth then Dawson is probably the most similar, but he can’t even guarantee a game at Spurs.
The long term replacements for Terry at club level, Luiz and Cahill, are thought of as football playing defenders.
Most football fan’s everlasting memory of John Terry will be the iconic image of him penguin diving at the feet of Slovenia’s Zlatko Dedic during the 2010 World Cup.
Incredibly few players own the passion, desire and gut’s to throw themselves, face first, in front of a football. Whatever your thoughts on the man, he may well be the last of a dying breed.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald