500. When you think about it, it truly is a mind-boggling number. Not just 500 games, 500 games as captain!
From that December day 13 years ago when he, two days short of his 21st birthday, deputized for the world football icon that was Marcel Desailly against Charlton Athletic, to last night when he played in his 429th league game (tying him for third all-time with Frank Lampard) and reached a milestone few others ever have in all of football. And only 385 more to go to reach the mark established by São Paulo's Rogério Ceni.
It was Jose Mourinho who nominated John Terry to take over from Desailly as club captain in 2004, and he was one of the firsts to pay tribute to JT's accomplishment.
Desailly offered similar praise.
"I had the privilege of seeing him arriving on the scene as a very young player, He was very motivated and was already ready to become an elite player.
Every day he was first at training. He would talk to the older players. He was young, but he was a leader. He was already a captain."
-Marcel Desailly; source: Bleacher Report
Ron "Chopper" Harris, Chelsea's all-time leader in appearances in second in most games captained with 324 joined in:
"John's always been in the thick of things, putting himself about and leading from the front. What more can you say about the fella? I can't speak highly enough of John and everything he has done for Chelsea Football Club.
It's a proud moment for me to see him making his 500th appearance as captain."
-Chopper Harris; source: Bleacher Report
After the win at Crystal Palace, further tributes appeared on social media, including one from Ryan Bertrand:
Respect to the captain 500 games Looked after me from young from paying for all the young scholars… http://t.co/KufEDSxE4G— Ryan Bertrand (@ryanbertrand3) October 18, 2014
And how did the man of the hour himself celebrate this milestone? First, he thanked a fans with a few words courtesy of a yellow compression shirt and a black Sharpie. Then he went home to a fine bottle of Sassicaia. A Super Tuscan that is known for breaking the rules of (Italian) winemaking? Seems appropriate for the man everybody loves to hate, but would have on their team in a heartbeat. Congrats, Captain, Leader, Legend!
Today was my 500th game as Chelsea Captain,I had the pleasure of playing and learning from the best with Dennis Wise and Marcel Desailly two heroes and great captains who always had time for me as a young boy. A glass of SASSICAIA to celebrate Thanks for your unbelievable support. JT