Hall of Fame

Terry: What Chelsea achieved was as good as Arsenal's Invincibles

22 Apr 2024

John Terry reflects on his Premier League career after being inducted into the Hall of Fame

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After being inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, John Terry looks back on his incredible career, revealing how he reached the top, his toughest opponents, and why he thinks his achievements with Chelsea rank higher than those of Arsenal's Invincibles. 

He also names which two current Premier League players he thinks will join the Hall of Fame in the future.

On being inducted into the Hall of Fame...

"I am delighted and grateful to join the Premier League Hall of Fame. To be recognised by your peers and the supporters is special. For me it is the best league in the world, so I’m very proud of what I achieved alongside my team-mates.

"I fell in love with football at a young age and it’s emotional to reflect on the time spent playing.

"It has been an incredible journey. At the time you’re not thinking let’s do this to become part of the Hall of Fame, you just want to work hard and try to win and to be remembered as someone who gave their all for the team and the supporters.

"I’d like to thank my parents, Toni, Georgie & Summer for supporting me throughout my career and understanding the sacrifices as a family we had to make."

On joining the Hall of Fame alongside Ashley Cole…

"Ash was not only my team-mate, he’s still a very close friend today so it’s very special to share this honour with him.

"Ashley was an incredible player and for me the best left-back that the Premier League has ever seen.

"Defensively he was brilliant and an absolute joy to play with. He could give everything going forward as well with so much energy and chipped in with goals, too."

Cole and Terry
On current players who could join the Hall of Fame…

"Kevin De Bruyne is such a talented player and he’s achieved a lot in the Premier League. I could see him joining the Hall of Fame one day.

"I love watching Virgil van Dijk. I think he is a top, top player. He's got a few more years left but I think when he retires, he'll certainly be in the Hall of Fame."

Van Dijk and De Bruyne
On Chelsea’s record-breaking 2004/05 season, conceding 15 goals and keeping 25 clean sheets…

"I'm going to upset a couple of people here, but I think that season was as good as the Invincibles season for Arsenal. They drew an awful lot of games.

"We only lost once, away to Man City, Paulo Ferreira gave away a penalty early on in the game and we should have come back and won the game.

"When you look at the goals we conceded that year, we conceded against sides you wouldn’t expect if I'm honest and that's no disrespect to them. Looking back today. That could have maybe been nine or 10 goals conceded.

"I don't think it's a record that's ever going to be beaten if I'm honest. I certainly hope it’s not and I’m very proud of what we did defensively. That's what we were paid to do, keep the ball out the net. It obviously helped with players around me like Petr Cech, Ashley Cole and Ricky Carvalho, so I’m very thankful for that."

On the Premier League…

"It’s the best league in the world. Different teams come in at different times and players burst through onto the scene so it’s just constantly exciting.

"I think of the players Chelsea attracted, even before the Abramovich era. The likes of Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit. Having the best players brings a spectacle on a weekly basis.

"Every game’s exciting. As a fan now, I’m watching the Premier League weekly going, ‘What’s going to happen?’

"I think for every young player out there wanting to be professional footballers, everyone wants to play competitive games in the Premier League."

On the legends already inducted into the Hall of Fame…

"For any kid out there at the moment seeing what ‘excellent’ looks like, it’s not just what you see; winning trophies and performing on a Saturday afternoon, it’s all the hard work that goes in beforehand.

"If you talk about people being in early, Frank Lampard was one of the first in every day and last off the training pitch. It was the same with Ashley Cole and Petr Cech – you had to drag these guys off the training pitch because being the best wasn’t good enough for them, they wanted to be the best in the world, not only the Premier League. There’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see and it’s fantastic to be recognised for that."

Cole, Cole and Terry, Hall of Fame
On his longstanding Chelsea career…

"You don’t see it too often, one player staying at a club for so long, which enables you to achieve what I did. I first arrived at Chelsea at the age of 14 and it immediately felt like home.

"I’ve cleaned the stadium, I’ve cleaned the toilets, I’ve washed the kit, I’ve done pretty much everything. It was an incredible journey for me.

"I’m delighted we left a kind of legacy. I go back to Stamford Bridge now and bump into fans and they’re very thankful for the memories that we created. Not only for them but for their parents, too. It can change and shape people’s lives. You want to entertain people and, as ex-players, that’s what we miss doing."

On his playing style…

"As player, I tried to give everything for my team-mates, our manager, our support. I think as a defender, blocking and tackling is part of the game.

"Enabling our forwards to go on and win the game for us. That was our job and we tried to do all we could to stop the ball going in."

On the qualities you need to be captain…

"There’s an awful lot of things that I learnt. I had the likes of Dennis Wise, Gianfranco Zola and all these experienced players that I learnt from along the way.

"When I was on the pitch, first and foremost I was me. And I wanted to be that person that trained at his very best every single day, turned up early and was never late.

"If I gave everything for the shirt then I could demand that from everyone around me. If you’re a captain who’s not doing that, they can quite easily throw it back at you when you’re not doing it. That’s the foundation of what you need to do.

"Away from that, there’s an awful lot of stuff that goes on off the pitch for players. Understanding the group and that not everyone is the same and everyone needs to be treated differently was one of my main assets.

"I could be firm on the likes of Frank [Lampard], Didi [Drogba], Petr [Cech] and those guys but with certain other players like Joe Cole, he probably needed to be told he was brilliant and needed a cuddle at times and stuff like that."

On the players he learned from at Chelsea…

"We had Marcel Desailly, who had just won the World Cup with France. Frank Leboeuf was part of that as well. For a 16-year-old John Terry, having those legends and people I had idolised around me was very important.

"There’s not one bit of advice that they gave me, it was a daily constant of little snippets: what to do, when to do it, not to dive in too early, work on your quick feet before and after training, come to the gym and stretch after training, see if it helps you.

"Marcel is a great friend of mine and we still often speak today and I never let him forget what he did for me as a player.

"When I first came into the team, Dubes [Michael Duberry] had just broke through and cemented his place in the team. Seeing him develop and grow into that position was great for me. He had so much time for me as well, shaping me as a person and a player."

On the toughest opponents he faced in the Premier League…

"Thierry Henry was the best I came up against, the one I feared the most.

"Next has to be Wayne Rooney. He was a top, top player and what he achieved was incredible. I don't know if it gets overlooked a little bit just how good Wayne was when he first broke into the England team. I remember playing against him in the Premier League and having him as a teammate in the England sessions. He was phenomenal.

"I’d also say Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane were difficult to come up against."

Terry and Henry
On the figures who shaped his Premier League career…

"There are a few people I have to thank. First of all, Gianluca Vialli, for trusting me at a very young age to be part of the first-team group and giving me my debut at the club.

"The second would be Claudio Rainieri for making me captain when he did.

"Top of that list has to go Jose Mourinho. I think everyone knows how I feel about him as a manager, but as a person he was fantastic as well. I'd had my dad and my mum believing in me the whole way, but having him doing the same thing was really, really powerful for me and the whole group at the time."

Terry and Mourinho
On falling in love with football…

"I fell in love with football from a really young age. My dad was captain of a local team. I can remember being five or six and kind of being around the dressing room. You remember the smells of the smelling salts and all of that, the banter and the camaraderie between the players.

"Every weekend we’d go and watch dad, with a ball at our feet and after the game all the kids are out playing until like eight, nine, ten o'clock at night, until it's dark. So, they're fond memories and the real reason I fell in love with football."

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