If John Terry retires this weekend it will be the end of an era for the Premier League.
Yeah, yeah – dressing rooms across the land can breathe easy now he’s out of the game, and all that. Ba doom tish.
But, seriously, he’s a one of a kind footballer.
No, there isn’t a punchline here. I mean it. As much as I think he’s a massive tit – and I’m not especially fond of his club, either – I also think he’s a colossus.
A defender of the ilk we won’t see again for a long time. And even I, as a non-Chelsea fan, want to pay tribute to him.
Even in an era of recently departed defensive greats – Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Jamie Carragher come to mind, bless their souls – Terry tops them.
Sure, he wasn’t as ‘cultured’ on the ball as Rio, but he could still ping a pass the length of the pitch without pausing for thought.
Vidic might have been a bruising, commanding bastard, but Terry was comfortably his equal.
And though Carragher’s leadership qualities were superb, JT’s were world class.
Much like another generational superstar, Wayne Rooney, Terry’s career is likely to be defined by his off-field misdemeanours and that slip in Moscow.
But that’s doing his pedigree a huge disservice. Honestly, during the Euros, watching England capitulate, what one player would you wish to be transplanted into the team?
OK, yes, Lionel Messi. Or Luis Suarez, fair point. But I’m not sure you’re getting this – of the English defenders of that, or any, season, Terry’s the one you’d want to turn to.
Admit it. You might mutter all sorts under your breath when his name is mentioned by the commentator, but no other player does last-ditch defending like him.
Wanky hipsters might interject at this stage by saying that ‘good defenders don’t let things get that far’, but that’s nonsense. Terry’s never say die attitude is indomitable and, at his peak, bailed his team mates out plenty of times.
It seems incredible given all the reported shagging and general d*ckheadery, but he’s exactly the kind of player the current England team needs to lead them.
In an era of softly-softly footballers who are so sensitive that even the mildest criticism from their manager will prompt a transfer request, I’m sure every manager in the division would love a player like Terry.
Name me a better defender in Premier League history. I don’t think you can.
Tony Adams? Ledley King? Sol Campbell? Vincent Kompany? Close, but they’re all denied by a last-ditch tackle from the big man.