The BIG Question: Is John Terry The Premier League’s Greatest Ever Centre-Back?

Chris Wright

27th, April 2015

27 Comments

By Chris Wright

John Terry is the best centre-back in Premier League history – not our words, Carol. The words of Jamie Carragher.

That’s right. In light of Chelsea’s cold, hard, calculated shutting-out of Arsenal yesterday, Carra has gone big and declared Terry to be the finest example of central defendership the Premier League has even seen.

You know what? We’re inclined to agree with him.

As well as being a born winner with a ruthless approach to ruining strikers’ afternoons, there is nobody better at resolute Helm’s Deep-style defending than John Terry. For those not preoccupied by superfluous step-overs, he can be a true joy to watch.

Football goes both ways after all. Those who wish to sell you football as an entertainment package might not be keen to highlight it as much, but the practice of good defending is just as vital and accomplished as all that mincing about at the other end of the pitch.

So, if not Terry, then who are the realistic alternatives? Tony Adams? Rio Ferdinand? Nemanja Vidic? Des Walker? Paul McGrath? Sol Campbell? Perhaps even Carragher himself?

We’d posit that only Adams and Ferdinand probably have legitimate claims to the moniker – as polar opposite in style as they may be – but neither can quite match Terry’s combined consistency, longevity and trophy haul.

There really hasn’t ever been a lull in his prowess, even with the received wisdom being that most centre-backs take until their mid-20’s to fully mature.

We know the consistency is the last bastion of the unimaginative and all that, but little things like being resilient, reliable and dependable at all times are a big deal when it comes to being a central defender. Not being a quivering, flappy mess matters. Uncertainty radiates.

As Carragher explains:

“For the next 20 or 30 years, that position at the near post, when we see other defenders doing it we’ll call it the ‘John Terry’ position.”

“You can’t always find yourself in the right position to put your head on things and clear things, you’ve got to have an understanding of the game.

“We’re not just talking about a big aggressive centre-back, Terry is always in the right position.

“His understanding of where to be, his reading of the game and reading crosses cannot be matched. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone better.”

Exactly. Nobody does it better. He’s always there, and that’s not by accident. It’s a skill – an incredibly influential  an under-appreciated skill.

Lest we forget that defending is an art. A largely ugly, destructive and austere art, but an art none the less.

What say you, Pies fans? Is John Terry the best centre-back of the Premier League era?

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27 Comments

  1. other dave says:

    Yes, no question. Only other person I’d throw into the conversation would be Jaap Stam but no one has the consistency nor longevity of Terry. To me, that puts him above the rest.

  2. Joe says:

    No. He missed a goal from 8 yards which would’ve won his club the European Cup. You could spend 20 years being the best player in the world, but when your aim is to ultimately hone that ability into winning honours, then blowing the easiest chance their is to acomplishing that, then you may as well have been painting the lines for 20 years.
    And it’s Steven Taylor, of course.

  3. Bruno says:

    Just because Chelsea kept a clean sheet against a shitty Arsenal team Terry is the best center back ever.
    Ferdinand was better, Staam too. Campbell and Vidic as well.

  4. David Hoffenheim says:

    Kolo Toure

  5. Nicola says:

    for me – Vidic, Terry second, third – dare I say it – Skrtel

  6. Sm says:

    Perhaps but that might say more about the premier leagues caliber of defenders than Terry. He doesn’t even crack my all time 10 top defenders like Maldini, Roberto Carlos, Baresi, Thiago Silva, Franz…

  7. Straight Dave says:

    Nope. The guy’s an odious human being.

  8. Vincent Cole says:

    I’d say he’s one of the best in the world, of all time. Who’s better? Jaap Stam and Ferdinand? Do me a favour!

    Terry is 4 steps ahead of the game being player, he’s a bloody mind reader

  9. Gatts says:

    Great solid centreback.
    But falls a few places in being one of the worst human beings to exist.

  10. Wilma says:

    Desailly?

  11. Wynton says:

    Tal Ben Haim

  12. Grumio says:

    Agreed. As a continental European I have never understood the moralism that is so intrinsic with the English psyche: i.e. “he is no angel, so he deserves no credit and is crap.” It must be tall poppy syndrome, as most of the country’s best players are always put down, rather than being praised for their talent (Terry, Cole, Rooney, Milner…)

    Look at that Joe comment… Honestly? He is a centreback FFS! The deep-lying one too. His job is to defend, which he does really well. If he can hit a penalty so much the better but he shouldn’t have to take it in the first place !

    Terry is everything you want from a CB. First and foremost he is consistently efficient and on top of that he is a leader.

    That said, Desailly was also class…

  13. Grumio says:

    Agreed. As a continental European I have never understood the moralism that is so intrinsic with the English psyche: i.e. “he is no angel, so he deserves no credit and is bad.” It must be tall poppy syndrome, as most of the country’s best players are always put down, rather than being praised for their talent (Terry, Cole, Rooney, Milner, Hart…)

    Look at Joe’s comment as the case in point… Honestly? Terry is a centreback! The deep-lying one too. His job is to defend, which he does really well. If he can hit a penalty so much the better but he shouldn’t have to take it in the first place !

    Terry is everything you want from a CB. First and foremost he is consistently efficient and on top of that he is a leader.

    That said, Desailly was also class…

  14. Bill-shankley says:

    You can’t call terry the best ever simply because he’s been around a long time. Richard Dunne in his pomp is better, Stam? Vidic is far better than terry.

  15. SuperDuper says:

    Of course he likes John terry, the author is a racist after all

  16. Nick says:

    “We’d posit that only Adams and Ferdinand probably have legitimate claims to the moniker… but neither can quite match Terry’s combined consistency, longevity and trophy haul”.

    Through extensive research (aka Wikipedia) I worked out that John Terry has won 15 trophies and Rio Ferdinand 16. Wondering how you then factor trophies into the argument for Terry being superior.

  17. Gazz says:

    Pascal Cygan for me all day long

  18. Dan says:

    can’t believe titus bramble hasn’t been mentioned in all this!

  19. Jacques says:

    Think Terry loses out on top spot because he’s always looked vulnerable when he’s not had a Matic/Makalele style stopper in front of him. How much of his recent revival has been down to Matic’s emergence as a world-class shield? Where as Ferdinand was able to be part of the best central defence partnership in the world, win multiple Premier League titles, the Champions League and set a world record without that kind of player in front of him.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sami Hyppia is a name that needs to appear here… And William Gallas too.

  21. Bobbie says:

    Definitely Sylvain Distin!

  22. Bobbie says:

    Sylvain Distin! Definitely! Not sure if the other comment went through because I didn’t enter an email, sorry for the duplication!

  23. Bestie says:

    Wes Brown. Next topic

  24. Eric says:

    I don’t think JT is that great a defender. He does rely heavily on there being a capable holding mid in front of him. Otherwise, if he is left alone with a forward, in open space, he quickly runs out of ideas. I’ve seen him skinned numerous times on cleverly played through-balls, that caught him, and his only recourse was a professional foul. A good CB that does not make.

    In terms of quality CBs? The pace at which the English game is played, makes it very difficult to determine who would be a quality CB. So many get caught out of position so easily, because they go too far forward, and leave their CB partner effectively stranded, or hang their keeper out to dry. To me, JT doesn’t have the sound decision making capability to be “the best”.

    Maybe Vidic before his legs started to go. He rarely let anything past him, and usually that was a pace-y Torres that defied this, before his knees started to show wear.

  25. TravisKOP says:

    Grumio is right, when it comes down to it his only detractors are people that dislike him as a person. John Terry has consistently been the best defender in the league for years.

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