Former Chelsea Youth Player’s Candid Account Reveals Another, Less Gimpish Side To John Terry

Chris Wright

9th, February 2012


By Chris Wright

The following is copy-and-pasted verbatim from a Chelsea forum, in which former Chelsea youth player Sam Tillen – who now plays his football in Iceland – writes candidly about his experiences as having John Terry as his club captain during his formative years.

I’ve no idea when it dates from, but the article has been translated directly from Icelandic so it may not scan properly in places. That said, it’s perfectly legible and presents Terry in a rarely acknowledged light. It may just add another dimension to your monochrome view of a man so often vilified by all and sundry (hands up, Pies have been as guilty as anyone else on that front on occasion)…

As football fans, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to judge a player’s persona, all we get is stuff from the newspaper and other medias and of course how the player acts on the football pitch. It’s normal that our feelings towards them are based on those things, since we don’t know them personally. But unfortunately this can be very deceiving.

Sometimes reporters can have a lot of propaganda. They could have had an argument with the player, be friends with his ex-wife or support a rival club. When a player steps on the field on a Saturday the whole world watches him play under the pressure of his life. Players, managers and supporters have all been waiting for this moment – kick off.

It’s abnormal to judge people’s behaviour under these circumstances. Do you think that when Gary Neville wins a game of hide and seek with his daughter he yells at his wife “Come on!!!!” while he holds on to his shirt like he did in front of Liverpool supporters at Old Trafford? I think not.

When you are around the training ground you get to see the players in their true form. Some of them surprise and charm you while others dissappoint you. This would also be the case if you meet someone in real life. The fact that footballers are famous does not make them any different. They just have talent in a specific field just like doctors or architects. Some of them are good people, others are not.

The year 2002, I was 17 and had been injured for eight months. I usually had to train twice as much to be in form. I trained with several players during rehabilation and since John Terry was facing injury as well I trained a lot with him. We trained together for three or four weeks before he began to play again and prove himself as the number one center-back in the first team.

After this, John always observed how I was doing with my injury and he wished me good luck for my first game after 11 months of rehabilation. Unfortunately in that first game I got heavily injured again and had to go to surgery three days later. When the physio came to visit me he said that ‘JT’ had asked if I could get vacation and he even asked Graeme (Le Saux) if they could use the ‘discipline fund’ (money collected if a player comes to training late and such) from the first team to pay for my vacation. I couldn’t believe it.

After staying home for ten days, I went to the training ground and John was there. He asked how I was doing and then said “Me and Graeme have arranged for you to go to a vacation, you can go wherever you want, with your friend or your brother, you deserve something good. Just think about where you want to go, this isn’t your money! Just let us know how much it costs and we will arrange it.

I didn’t know what to say other than ‘thank you’. I talked to the youth and reserve coaches and they told me it was probably best for me to take the vacation. One of the reserve coaches said that I still had that ‘hospital color’ because I was as white as a ghost. I lost a lot of blood in the surgery and it showed in my face.

My mother had also just had surgery so she could use a a little break from work. That’s why I wanted to take her with me. It was October so I needed to find ‘some place hot’ like John advised me to do.

The one place close that was hot enough was Southern Spain and because this wasn’t my money I didn’t want to take advantage of the generosity from John. So, the next day during practice I said to John “Is it okay if me and my mother go to Sevilla over the weekend?”

His answer was, “Come on Tills! You can go wherever you want for free, why do you want to go there? It won’t even be hot. Look at it again, go to the Caribbean or something, you can sit at the beach without having to worry how much it is going to cost, we will make sure of it.”

So I went and checked again and found a good offer for a trip to Tobago. I talked to my physio for a few days and he said “It’s fine, just talk to JT.” I still felt for bad spending other people’s money, I had never done that before. So naturally I was a little nervous when I was talking to John, telling him about the trip I had in mind.

And what did John say? “No problem, good choice! Just give me the info and we’ll pay it.” He arranged everything and the day before I was leaving for the trip he called me over in the dressing room. “Tills, your going tomorrow, right?” He went to his pocket and took out £100. “Here, some pocket money to spend”. I said that I couldn’t accept it. He asked again and again I refused. Then he stood up and said “you’re not going anywhere until you accept this!”. I had no choice.

When I came back from the trip, I was renewed and a large part of the reason was that I was finally ready to play football again, 6 months after my surgery.

In my first game after the injury (in the youth team) we were playing Crystal Palace at our training ground. The first team wasn’t suppose to have training until 3pm but our game was at 10am. John came to see me play, 5 hours before his training. He came just to see if I would get through the game, which happened. He certainly didn’t have to do that, but he did.

When by brother Joe was in the youth team, John paid for driving lessons for every single player in the youth team because he knew how expensive it was when you only get £80-a-week in wages. The youth players just had to tell him how much it cost and John paid it the next day.

At that time, when the youth players were cleaning the first team players’ boots, everyone wanted to get one of the ‘sharks’ – John, Frank Lampard, Jody Morris, etc – because they gave the highest christmas bonuses. Some players didn’t give any bonuses even though the youth players had cleaned they’re boots for six months.

John didn’t only give high bonuses, but he even paid for the youth players fines if he thought they were being treated unfairly. Of course, he told them not to tell a soul.

John has never forgotten what it was like to be a player in the youth team and he is the perfect captain. He was always available if you wanted to talk to him. He always asked every youth player how they were doing in the team. If he heard that you played well in a match, he congratulated and encouraged you. He really had an interest. He never forgot the young players.

He was always monitored the youth players, including me. For instance, he found an agent for me that I signed with. When youth players traveled with the first team he always made sure that they got their bonuses, that made a lot of difference in their paychecks.

He helped them adapt and welcomed them into a new environment. On the pitch and the training ground he was magnificent, he had an heart like a lion. He trained after practices, always did that little extra. We really looked up to him.

It wasn’t just the youth players either. There are endless stories of his kindness and generosity, stories that never left the training ground. One of them stands out: We had an old masseuse called Al. One day his car broke down for good. He said that he couldn’t attend training sessions anymore because it was very difficult for a man of his age to use public transport.

One day after practice, John told him to go to the parking lot and close his eyes. When he opened them he saw a brand new car. John had asked every player in the first team to chip in to buy Al a new car. The old man started to cry. This all happened before Roman Abramovich and before John was a superstar and started making big money.

Last year Al got seriously sick and had to be in a hospital. When John found out, he immediately contacted him. Al was flattered to hear from him, and his wife was delighted that John had taken the time to think about him. John visited Al regularly until he passed away and John, of course, attended his funeral.

Marcel Desailly – the Chelsea captain before him – didn’t do anything like the things John did. He couldn’t care less about the young players or anyone else in the club for that matter.

As a player he was impeccable, but as a captain he did nothing and wasn’t even close to what John is. In my first and second year in the youth team it was our job to get signed shirts from players from the first team, those shirts where then sent to fans or to a charity.

We all stood in a row in the hallway before practices when the first team players walked passed us and then they signed the shirts. When Mr. Desailly came, he usually pretended to be on the phone so he didn’t have to do anything. We were like “Marcel, uuuuuumm, Marcel, could you please…..” and then he was gone. Disappointment.

Some players cause you a lot of disappointment when you meet them personally. They also do that in daily life. John has, of course, had a few problems off the pitch that have gotten a lot of press, but I will always remember how he treated me when I was a teenager.

No one else would have done that or even thought about doing it. He is no saint, but there is a reason why Chelsea fans, players and staff look at John Terry as a real leader.”

Cockle warming. Take from that what you will. I’m sure it won’t go along way to adding any perspective or depth to the vast majority of people’s opinion of the man, but it’s certainly refreshing to hear Terry’s name mentioned in a positive context once in a blue moon.

Spotted on The Shed (Via the talkchelsea forum)

Posted in Chelsea, Featured, Media

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  1. kct says:

    After reading this article I really want to be able to say I like JT, but there’s something about cheating on your wife that I find unacceptable.

  2. Al says:

    It’s good to read and just shows that Terry isn’t all bad. The tabloid media have a big part to play in all of this and hyping everything up to ridiculous levels. Lets be honest all footballers do bad things John Terry has just been caught twice on two very high profile incidents. I don’t limit doing bad things to footballers either, firemen, policemen, office workers, nurses etc etc all do bad things in daily life but don’t have billions of people scrutinising their every move. Yes footballers get paid silly money and should know better but nobody is perfect and one of the annoying things from all of this (racism and Wayne bridges bird) has been some footballers pure virginal attitude to Terry when in reality they aren’t exactly saints (Bellamy and Rio in particular)

  3. Tinez says:

    Why use the discipline fund, your pockets not deep enough John? (only read a third of the article so if it turns out he did pay for it then comment withdrawn).

  4. mul says:

    unfortunately the place he should be showing us all how lovely he really is,is on the pitch .oh and not to be shaggin his friends wives as well would help.


  5. muppets says:

    i’m not religious but i’m sure there’s something in the bible about true charity not being something you shout about just to make yourself look good. it’s about genuinely wanting to help others whether or not people know about it.

    the media can easily transform a persons image within the blink of an eye. JT is an adulterer but then so are A LOT of men. maybe he’s actually quite a decent bloke and we’ve just been led to believe differently

  6. JP says:

    Always read about how classy a character JT is. & his footballing skills will never be questioned. Reading this doesn’t surprise me, because everyone must understand how much the papers and magazines influence the public’s opinion. They honestly will go so far to skew a story and change the whole dimension of what is truthful and what is not.

    And at the end of the day, he is a man–a human, prone to make a mistake or two, for that matter. I live in the USA, where our country’s most sought after and adored political, athletic and entertainment figures are put on the highest of pedestals. You think these guys are squeeky clean? Hell no. In fact, our newspapers put so much effort in to COVERING UP the flaws and terrible mistakes these people make.

    Although I hate racism, and infidelity, I know at the end of the day without the proper interaction with another man, it is almost impossible to judge. I know there is a fine line to walk, but humanity must learn humility.

  7. Al says:

    @tinez it was before he was on big money

    @mul she wasn’t Wayne Bridges wife nor was Wayne Bridge even with her at the time, the issue is he cheated on his own wife but as @muppets said he’s not on his own there

  8. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    @muppets: that’s what I like about terry, he never came out after the bridge thing and did what all other celebs who have done wrong but don’t want to lose their money did, loads of media sucking up, he apologised to his wife and just kept on doing what he does

    i love @Tinez’s comments ’cause it shows what most of the people who hate terry are, children who will clutch at straws before they admit they’re wrong. The article clearly says this is before John was in the money.

    @muppets also remember he has not been found guilty/not guilty yet, lets wait and see what happens in court.

    and with the adultery, 30-40% of people in the UK have cheated when in a long-term relationship. anyone here think they could stay true when encouraged to marry in early 20’s (managers think it gives a player more stability) and then dealing with the amount of clunge flying your way??

    there are much bigger cunts in football
    exhibit A: Kenny “I will defend someone charged with racism, argue they should never have been banned, dismiss racist chants from supporters as ‘banter’ and act as miserable as possible” Dalglish

    there. i said. it.

  9. Al says:

    @ Archbishop betty – you can’t defend Terry on the one hand and then use the same hand to beat Daglish round the head with, it completely detracts from any point you were making as what Terry did is clearly worse. A United fan I would wager

  10. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    @Al a fan of the mighty swindon town actually im not sayin i hate dalglish im sayin his defence of suarez and the liverpool fans is pretty cuntish and more cuntish that what terry’s done if he’s found innocent

  11. Al says:

    @ Archbishop – fair enough I take your point if only because Fraser Digby is a personal friend of mine

  12. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    @Al get out! the man the legend? signed an autograph for me once, seemed like a top bloke

  13. Al says:

    @ AB – ah I’m only yanking your chain, his name just always excites any Swindon fans i know

  14. Tinez says:


    He was a first team player in 2002, starting a seasons worth of games over the two campaigns in that year. He definitely had a few quid in the account.

  15. mikisk says:

    he still is a racist twat, right?

  16. callard says:

    Really glad you found a piece like this, it’s nice to see the personal side of footballers and especially one who has been demonized by the press to the degree Terry has. Ever since the Wayne Bridge incident I have had a strong dislike for Terry but this certainly has changed my mind

  17. Dan says:

    While that poor guy was inn holidays JT was banging his girlfriend..

  18. AN says:

    Fraser Digby- true legend, on and off the pitch

  19. MessiBalls says:

    Good article and I agree with the author regarding being disappointed meeting your heroes. But JT wasn’t disappointing, the total opposite.

    Yeah he cheated on his wife but fuck it, he didn’t kill anyone. Is he a racist? I don’t think so, yet to be seen/proved. A slip of the tongue in the heat of the moment is hardly the same as being a member of BNP and stomping around London in Nazi clothing.

    I don’t really care too much about JT or the peoples opinion of him. I and we don’t really know him. He was a great footballer for a long time, he’s past his best but has a lot to offer still

  20. USA Scouser says:

    In the summer of 2007 when CFC traveled to the States to play the galaxy and what not… at the LA party for the CFC players and other hollywood celebs, JT sleept with 2 18 year olds in a threesome. One of the girls is in fact the daughter of Graham King. He produced the aviator and won an oscar for the departed. He is a HUGE chelsea fan… as so his daughter. All this is true. I know a bunch of people who went to High School with this chicks and its totally true. THIS IS FACT.

    Being a good person is not about what you do in public… But what you do when no one is watching.

  21. Tom says:

    Helps explain why he has so much support at Chelsea.

    Interesting he decides whether he thought youth team fines were fair or not and paid them on the sly if he deemed them unfair. Is that a good thing? Sounds exactly the sort of insubordination/clique building that could undermine, say, a world cup squad.

  22. Mackers says:

    Always admired JT.
    There’s a girl with downs syndrome in the Irish Supporters club, her mother is a life long Chelsea fan and brings her daughter over to see Chelsea once or twice a year.

    Last time she was over, Chelsea beat Villa 7-1. At the final whistle, JT ran over to the family section, found the girl and gave her one of his boots and his jersey. He also invited them to come to the media centre to meet Stamford the Lion, the mascot.

    Yeah he cheated on his wife, with a woman who’s gone on to appear only in the glossy, braindead magazines for braindead women. So fucking what? Rooney’s done it, countless times (if I recall he told his wife to forgive him, or just piss off). The man is a leader on the pitch, an absolute gent off it, and he can’t do enough for the people that matter.

    Tabloids love him because anything about him can be weaved into a story, because he’s captain of Chelsea and was England captain.

  23. TheBigDawg says:

    Call me cynical but did Sam have a really hot girlfriend by any chance?

  24. Graham says:

    Sounds like he was grooming these young kids to go and place bets in bookies for him more like it – a nothing article really.

  25. Chris says:

    I cant understand how you still think JT is an ass, this shows that he is a wonderful man and he is a great player, problaby one of the best you got. He is a real team player and a perfect captain and rolemodel

  26. j says:

    i find it hilarious how half of you use the excuse he cheats on his wife, i guess you all hate the majority of footballers. atleast he didn’t sleep with his brothers ACTUAL wife. he’s not the most likeable of players but he’s a decent person when it matters. i don’t think there was a single player in the england worldcup who hadn’t cheated on his wife/gf that year.

  27. Berkshire Hunt says:

    USA Scouser, you’re as full of shite as the rest of your deluded liverpudlians who still claim Hysell wasn’t their fault ! Slso what’s your take on people like Gerrard, Rooney, Giigs etc? Of don’t they count?

  28. Barry says:

    A very interesting article which provides a little balance.

    If anyone reads this and thinks its only a matter of time before we see St. John of Terry, then you’re severely deluded. On the other hand, it does go some way to redressing the balance influenced by the jaundiced tabloid view we have of the man.

    As pointed out, he is villified to a far greater extent than others. People bring up his dalliances with Wayne Bridge’s parter at the time, yet other footballer’s indiscretions are conveniently forgotten (Beckham, Giggs and Rooney instantly spring to mind).

    Terry seems a human – a decent sort of bloke who’s made some mistakes – some massive ones at that. But don’t let that get in the way of selling papers.

  29. Bob says:

    Wayne Bridges former partner – the one Terry was alleged to have had an affair with while Bridgey was knobbing 19 year old girls in Manchester [the last bit is FACT] – has come out and denied anything happened between her and Terry. She sued the press for printing lies and SHE WON. Terry had nothing to apologise to his wife for, as nothing happened (at least, not with Bridges former partner). Anyone who says different just wants their version to be true so they can feel justified about hating the bloke.

    It amazes me that people continue to trot out this nonsense about “Terry cheating with Bridges’ wife” etc. when it didn’t even farking happen.

  30. michael says:

    men do make mistake. Who all of u dare to say nvr bang other girl ONCE?! while in a relationship or married status? Who didnt? Tiger does it! beckham does it! Sven eriksson does it too!

  31. WxM says:

    For Chelsea he players staff fans he might be awesome but for everyone else he is an arsehole

  32. Vera says:

    Well done for publishing this article. This decision flies in the face of other outlets who have set about destroying this man, with innuendo and rumours and unproven stories. Its commonly known that a number of newspapers paid out damages following stories about Wayne Bridges ex. Also worth remembering that the judge in ruling over the Fathers ‘drug’ case said it was the most blatant case of entrapment he’d seen, as it was a sting operation set up by a newspaper to trap father into sourcing drugs for the reporter. We still await the outcome of the trial in June, but all the casual observers would do well to note that amongst people who have supported John Terry are John Barnes, Paul Ince, Marcel Desailly. These people know him, most people are jumping to conclusions because they want it to be true.

  33. WildScotsman6 says:

    y’know what… if the article is legit… something like that really can change my thoughts on a character….

  34. Fahad says:

    WHAT. A. LEGEND. Okay he slept with Bridges wife but atleast he never sleep with his brothers wife or with a freekin stripper while his wife was pregnant so just piss off everyone.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why people are not been honest, JT is a good pal, testimony has shown this.

  36. wael says:

    a john terry article that’s more than 4 lines long… no thanks id rather shoot myself

  37. Harv S says:

    …funny how most responses make a bee-line for the Wayne Bridge nonsense. Yet when discussing Ryan Giggs, people are ready and able to overlook the fact that he was plugging away at his sister in law for several years. Oh and Wazza knobs grannies – FACT. The irony is ridiculous.

  38. oooooz says:

    wael so would we.

  39. Anonymous says:


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