Peter Crouch: John Terry used to manipulate referees to avoid bookings and red cards

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John Terry is one of the most divisive footballers to ever play the game.

Chelsea fans dearly loved the former Blues captain for his leadership, tenacity and devotion.

Terry joined the club at 14 and went on to become their most decorated skipper ever, leading them to five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League title.

Following his release at the end of the 2016-17 season, Terry played one last campaign with Aston Villa before hanging up his boots and taking up his current role as assistant head coach to Dean Smith.

Despite all the defender achieved during his playing career, though, Terry didn’t - and still doesn’t - have many admirers among those with no allegiance to Stamford Bridge.

That’s mainly due to the conduct on and off the pitch of which he’s been accused, which spans personal and legal issues.

Even in retirement, Terry still isn’t safe from controversy.

Speaking in Amazon Prime’s Back of the Net show, Peter Crouch claims the ex-England international used to manipulate officials to avoid bookings and red cards.

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“What I saw creeping into the game, during my time, was when the captains would go in before the game and speak to the ref,” he said, per The Sun.

“To me, they would always be ‘ref’. I have grown up with just ‘ref’. Now it’s like Mike and James. They are all called by their first names. It’s all to get them onside.

“I remember Darren Fletcher was good at it. But John Terry was amazing at it. Just getting around the ref. ‘Ah, Mike, you alright? How is the family?’ All this.

“Unreal. I thought: ‘This is disgusting.’ He was crawling around the ref.

“And it meant [the ref] would think twice. If he clattered someone in the first minute, he’d get up and say: ‘Sorry Mike.’ He would then think twice about booking him. It’s little things like that.”

Other players have likely employed similar tactics, but Terry’s reputation gives such an allegation a more sinister undertone.

Love him or hate him, any captain with the same desire to win as the man Chelsea fans call ‘captain, leader, legend’ would probably do the same.

What do you make of Terry’s supposed antics? Share your opinion in the comments section.

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