Jose Mourinho has sensationally revealed that he thought John Terry's Chelsea career was over when he returned to Stamford Bridge for his second spell as manager in 2013, but was quickly convinced that his inspirational skipper still had plenty to offer his team.
The Blues defender had endured a couple of frustrating seasons prior to the Portuguese coach's comeback, losing his place in the side due to a combination of issues regarding his fitness and form.
However, the 34-year-old has enjoyed a new lease of life under the familiar stewardship of Mourinho, earning himself not one but two contract extensions in the past two years in west London.
Article continues below
“I think he knows that, without me, he probably wouldn’t be at Chelsea in this moment," Mourinho is quoted saying by the Sunday People. "Because, probably, with another manager he wouldn’t play. And without playing, he wouldn’t have another contract.
“This is not about the club, but the managers. If the managers don’t want the players, and the player doesn’t play, the club has to open the door.
Article continues below
“If a player is not important, sooner or later he leaves. Under me, he has had already two new contracts. But I also know that, probably without him, I wouldn’t be Premier League champion. Without him it would have been very difficult."
Mourinho's comments show just how much respect he has for the veteran centre-back, but he also took the opportunity to pay tribute to a number of his other senior players.
“I’d say the same for Branislav Ivanovic, Petr Cech, all of them... but to be on the pitch for every minute, he [Terry] obviously has a special place in our achievement.
“It’s not easy for anyone to play every minute of every league game and we are not speaking about a 33-year-old or a 23-year-old. It’s very difficult - injuries, cards, highs and lows of form, managerial decisions.
"It depends on so many areas that it’s almost the impossible job to do it. But John, [Branislav] Ivanovic and Eden Hazard have started every game in the league, which is amazing.
“I didn’t think Terry had this much to give. I thought he was over, I thought he was in trouble, because for the previous two years he hadn’t played two or three consecutive matches.
“He was not an option for the managers. He was injured. The managers preferred other players in front of him. I thought there was something wrong and that he couldn’t get back to his normal level.
“When I signed for Chelsea he had one more year of his contract and I wanted to respect that year and see what was going on.
“We spoke and he knew my nature: that I owed him a lot, but I’d give him nothing he didn’t deserve. He knew that was my way of being a manager, and he was prepared already.
“He said he’d prove he deserved a place in the team, a very simple process and, obviously, he was fantastic. His season wasn’t second in relation to his best season, in 2004, 2005 or 2006.”
Terry's revival is not solely down to Mourinho, but it's fair to say The Special One has been pretty instrumental in helping the fans' favourite get back to his best at Chelsea.
Chelsea fans: How many more years do you think John Terry can stay in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge? Have your say in the comment box below...