As he clinched a fourth Premier League title of his career, Chelsea captain John Terry couldn’t resist a sly dig at former head coach Rafael Benitez.
The Blues skipper looked to be edging towards the status of a fringe first team player when Benitez placed in charge of the club in November 2012, following the dismissal of Roberto di Matteo. The Spanish coach was an unpopular appointment amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful, something which only slightly eased when he led them to glory in the UEFA Europa League.
And Terry was certainly no fan of the former Liverpool coach, who reduced him from an integral part of the back four to a player deemed no longer able to play at the highest level more than once a week. Since Jose Mourinho returned to the club this notion has been completely dismissed, and some would say the 34-year-old is even playing the best football of his career.
The former England international captain made 34 starts in the Premier League last season, and he has played every minute of their campaign this term. His performances have been a key factor in the title returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since Carlo Ancelotti led them to glory in 2010, and his omission from the PFA Player of the Year shortlist was a surprise.
So after the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace which sealed the title, Terry seemed to remember Benitez’s reign as he told Sky Sports: “One person said I couldn’t play twice in a week and he knows who he is. I’ve not only proved him wrong but everyone wrong – I’m still fighting, I’m still in the side, I’m feeling great. More importantly I’ve got great players and great management around me.”
Just how important has John Terry been to Chelsea’s title success? And how could Rafael Benitez, one of the most respected coaches in the game, have got it so wrong?