John Terry knows his days as a top-flight footballer are numbered at the not-so-tender age of 34. Particularly, Terry knows his days at Chelsea, the only club he’s ever known, are even more numbered.
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Upon returning to Chelsea, Jose Mourinho made the lay of the land very clear: work hard and perform the way you can and have your entire career, or you’re gone. Terry, who now finds himself navigating the world of one-year contracts based on the previous season’s performances, has responded with what many consider the best form of his illustrious career.
“I am fighting for my future, for my family’s future and I want to give it everything. The uncertainty has helped me positively, not having a four- or five-year deal, because the roles are reversed. Now the power is in the club’s hands. That has inspired me.
“The manager has come in, sat me down, and made it clear that if you work hard you will get extra years and you will play, but if not there are others who are younger who can play and will fight for their places.
“This is a year-on-year rolling deal. I don’t know how long I have left. Hopefully I have a few years but if this is my last then I hope I will go out on a bang.”
Terry featured in more league games during the 2013-14 season (34) than he had since 2009-10 after a series of long-term injuries, and a dip in form when he was fit, had cost him a guaranteed starting place during the managerial tenures of Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez.
Now under his former mentor and friend, Mourinho, once again, the tactical system Chelsea employ — sitting deeper in midfield and defense, and striking with devastating counter attacks — suits Terry’s games — and aging body — far better than the high-line, possession-oriented styles of Villas-Boas and Di Matteo. Under Mourinho’s tutelage and management, don’t be surprised if Terry plays into his late 30s, and continues to look this good doing it.