John Terry may be 37 years old. He may be third on Chelsea’s list of all-time appearances with 717 matches played. He may be at a point in his career when most players of his stature have called it a day and parked themselves in front of TV camera to unburden their mind of thoughts about on-pitch affairs.
But there’s nothing typical about John Terry. First, he decided he wanted to keep playing when Chelsea finally phased him out. Second, instead of going for more glory in the Premier League, he opted to drop down a division and play for Aston Villa so he wouldn’t have to play against the only club he truly loves (unlike the unexpected dilemma Frank Lampard had to deal with.)
And third, he can’t stop being great. He’s just been named to the EFL Championship Team of the Year, voted in by the 72 managers of the English Football League. This, even though he broke a metatarsal in his foot and sat out ten matches. He’s started in 31 of Villa’s 41 fixtures so far (and subbed in another.) And the Birmingham Mail has two more facts that will sound familiar to Chelsea ears.
“Terry has helped Villa to keep 12 clean sheets in those games and he’s become hugely popular amongst supporters.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same, even at the remarkable age of 37 in a rough-and-tumble league. Judging by his Instagram posts, he’s proud he’s kept his skills.
The iron man of football made his 800th career start this weekend against Norwich (a 3-1 loss) as he tries to lift Aston Villa to promotion in his first season with the club.
John Terry is set to make his 800th senior start, against Norwich— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 6, 2018
Terry’s starts by team:
31 A. Villa
5 Nott’m Forest
1st start for @ChelseaFC at Oldham in FA Cup, Jan 1999@NorwichCityFC v @AVFCOfficial, live Saturday on Sky Sports Football at midday pic.twitter.com/BeRzhiLDp7
Paired with reliable James Chester in the middle of Villa’s defense, Terry is winning 59% of his aerial duels at an average of 2.7 per match and with nine defensive actions per game. He only has one goal but it came against Fulham on a trademark header off of a set piece (the kind of goal Chelsea have been missing this season.)
Ever since Terry left Chelsea there’s been heavy support for him to someday return as manager, something reinforced by his studying for his coaching badges. But the man could have unfinished business on the pitch. He has an option year in his Villa contract and he reportedly wants to trigger it. After what he’s done this season, the team will try to talk him into extending his tenure at Villa Park.
I wouldn’t bet against it happening. He still loves to play and there aren’t many players who can match his willpower and dedication.
He may make a great manager someday, since his leadership skills are beyond question. But it may be a while yet before John Terry hangs up his boots.