Football

Martin Keown: John Terry is better than Sol Campbell

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Former Arsenal star Martin Keown believes Chelsea captain John Terry is among the greatest defenders in Premier League history - even better than his former 'Invincibles' team-mate Sol Campbell.

Responding to a reader question in his Daily Mail column, the retired England international admitted it's difficult to compare individual players from different eras of professional football, but says he's seen enough of the Blues skipper to put him right up there alongside the best centre-backs this country has ever seen.

Keown also praised Rio Ferdinand for his impact at Manchester United and said his Three Lions partnership with Terry was outstanding, although conceded neither player seemed able to reproduce their club form at international level.

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Of course, Terry called time on his England career early in the aftermath of his court case for race allegations against the ex-Old Trafford star's brother Anton Ferdinand, but there's no doubt the 34-year-old still has the ability to play at the highest level.

The £150,000-a-week star has been an ever-present in the soon-to-be-crowned Premier League champions' back four this season, and it's no coincidence they also boast the second stingiest defence in the division.

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Jose Mourinho recently heaped praise on the influence that his captain continues to have in the Chelsea dressing room, and it's surely only a matter of time before Terry puts pen to paper on another contract extension in west London.

"It's always difficult to compare players from different eras and a lot of it has to do with the team you're in," explained Keown. "Some have compared Terry to Tony Adams and both were truly excellent players. But they both certainly found themselves in the right place at the right time.

"If you go back to Bobby Moore he was a supreme defender but domestically didn't win as many trophies as Terry or Adams. But then he was in the perfect position for England.

"Actually breaking down an individual player's game and comparing them to others is a difficult task and sometimes not worthwhile when so many years separate them. But in terms of the Premier League, Terry is certainly up there with the very best."

Keown went on to claim that the one thing that prevents Terry from standing out even more from his peers is his obvious lack of speed, although he's adjusted his game accordingly, and will also not be so affected by age catching up with him.

As a result the veteran could still play for Chelsea for a few more years yet, providing he's still happy to sign the rolling 12-month contracts that are only ever afforded to any player over the age of 30.

"One strength of his that is often overlooked is his passing and his confidence on the ball," added the former Gunner. "Yes, he is an excellent defender who does well from crosses and deals with the ball very well under pressure. But he can play too.

"If you compare people to their contemporaries then he and Rio Ferdinand have been the best, with Sol Campbell not far behind if he is considered in the same period.

"It's so hard to pick between them and at the time they were the perfect partnership for England. But I never thought either were as good for England as for their clubs – they didn't have that protection in front of them.

"If Terry had had some pace then he would be head and shoulders above the rest from his era. Pace has been the only thing he lacked and he has worked around that, but if he was quick there would be absolutely no doubt he is the best."

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Topics:
John Terry
Football
Premier League
Martin Keown
Sol Campbell
Arsenal
Chelsea

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