Long-time Chelsea FC captain John Terry speaks to UEFA.com about learning from Marcel Desailly, life under José Mourinho and facing Club Atlético de Madrid.
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More mindful than most of the pitfalls that a player can face in the quest to win 'the cup with the big ears', John Terry told UEFA.com that past UEFA Champions League disappointments continue to inspire him as Chelsea FC take on Club Atlético de Madrid in this season's last four.
As he looks ahead to his sixth UEFA Champions League semi-final, Terry is still inspired by the quest for the trophy despite being deeply wounded by the barbs of fate in the past. A loser in Moscow against Manchester United FC in 2008, partly due to his dramatic shoot-out miss, Terry was a winner in Munich four years later, but only as club captain – having missed the final itself through suspension.
The 33-year-old knew the UEFA Champions League was something special from the days when he partnered FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 winner Marcel Desailly at centre-half for the Blues. "[Desailly] would stand there, in the team lineup, and say to me: 'John, listen to this Champions League music, this is what you want to hear season after season,' and he was excited," Terry told UEFA.com.
"He was at the end of his career; a man who had won everything, with no need to be 'up' for those games, but he wanted to win and be involved in those big Champions League nights. And for me, even now I've got goose bumps on my legs – I will never forget those nights standing alongside Desailly in this competition."
Terry struggled to forget his experience of playing in the 2008 showpiece, aged 27, after 13 years on the books at Chelsea. The final and extra time finished 1-1 – just as it would four years later – and when Terry marched up to strike the tenth penalty of the shoot-out, it was to win the competition. Earlier this season Wayne Rooney, who had been watching from the sidelines having been substituted, told UEFA.com: "John's actually a really good taker, I was totally convinced he'd score."
Terry slipped, missed and the trophy smiled on United that night. "I didn't sleep for months," Terry recalled. "I'm talking an hour here, an hour there; and even still to this day I wake up kind of middle of the night and think 'argh!' That'll always be there, but it still kind of inspires me and pushes me on. That's the character not only I, but the whole club, showed in the year we won it. Always wanting to succeed."
The last time Chelsea and Atlético met was in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup, when that unity of desire was at a surprisingly low ebb. "I was suspended but before the game I stood outside watching them warm up, then watched their manager [Diego Simeone] on the sidelines [shouting] at them the whole way through the final," Terry recalled.
"They were up for it a lot more than us that night, it meant a lot more to them than it did us which is disappointing because games like Champions League finals, and Super Cups – they don't come around very often. That's something we'll be aware of: that Atlético are very hungry for success, which they've shown in their league, and to be where they are in the Champions League is already a big thing."
To watch the interview in full, click on the video player above.