It’s been a turbulent season for Gary Cahill, Chelsea’s first club captain other than John Terry since 2004. While Cahill wore the armband more often than JT last season already, the designation wasn’t made official until Terry left to continue his career at Aston Villa instead. He had been the official Chelsea captain since a newly arrived Jose Mourinho named him the successor to Marcel Desailly.
But since receiving said honor, Cahill has lost his starting left centre-back job to Antonio Rudiger. Then he was dropped from the England squad for the March friendlies, probably because he just wasn’t playing. Like Terry last season, Cahill has had a watching brief more often than not, with Cesar Azpilicueta next in line for the armband.
But he’s seen a resurgence in the last two matches, as Conte has chosen to rest first Rudiger and then Andreas Christensen. Against Burnley, he had an excellent overall game, including the laser-sharp pass that released Victor Moses for Chelsea’s first goal.
With just four league games left and (we hope) two matches in the FA Cup, it’s hard to predict how many more outings Cahill will get this season. But the man isn’t giving up on himself or on his chances of playing for England in the World Cup.
“I’m not putting pressure on myself. I know what I’m capable of over many years.
“It’s good to be out there, getting results and building up my match fitness. I’m pleased to get back in and it builds momentum for an important weekend (in the FA Cup semi-final.)
”It’s been tough, clearly, but football is a rollercoaster and it’s not always rosy. But my time here has been successful overall.
”I’m not finished, I keep working hard and I’ll be back to my levels soon.”
-Gary Cahill; source: Goal
Cahill is on track to pay the fewest minutes in a Premier League season since he established himself as a starter at Chelsea in 2012. At 32 years old, it’s natural that he might start getting eased aside for a younger player, especially since his contract expires after next season.
But his career has been defined by not putting his head down and by fighting back when things go wrongs. And that’s exactly the kind of spirit Antonio Conte is looking for.
Cahill, he’s won it all, as the song goes. There’s at least one more FA Cup left to fight for.