The Blues boss admits the 34-year-old’s struggles under Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez made him wonder how much his captain had left to offer
Jose Mourinho admits he thought John Terry was finished when he returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2013.
Terry fell from favour under Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez at Stamford Bridge but has enjoyed a remarkable career resurgence under Mourinho, starting every Premier League game of the Blues’ title-winning season at the age of 34.
The Chelsea captain’s consistent excellence also saw him rewarded with a place on the PFA Team of the Year, and Mourinho insists that Terry’s return to top form has surprised even him.
“I thought he was over,” the Portuguese told reporters. “Because he hadn’t played for the previous two years, 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. But when I signed for Chelsea [in 2013] he had one more year of 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 deserves a place in the team, a very simple process. Obviously, he was fantastic.
“The only thing I knew was that, with different managers, he was not playing. I knew no more than that.
“But he started pre-season with us. I know he likes the way we work, our methodology. He feels very good with the kind of work we do. I always thought he was going to improve and I’d have a good player. But, in the end, he came to a fantastic level.”
Terry’s has earned a one-year extension to his Chelsea contract and Mourinho believes his captain’s rejuvenation has benefited all parties.
“I think he knows that, without me, he probably wouldn’t be at Chelsea in this moment,” the Blues boss added.
“But I also know that, probably without him, we wouldn’t be Premier League champions. Because, probably, with another manager he wouldn’t play. And without playing he wouldn’t have another contract.
“If a player is not important, sooner or later he leaves. Under me, he has had already two new contracts.”