John Terry has been named as 2008 UEFA Club Defender of the Year ahead of Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand, Carles Puyol. and Nemanja Vidić.
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John Terry (Chelsea FC)
It is in the heat of the battle that Terry really comes to the fore and the London side struggled in his absence when he broke three bones in his foot in December. He was back quicker than expected and defied medical expectations again in May when, ten days after dislocating his shoulder, he led Chelsea out for the UEFA Champions League final. Fortune does not always favour the brave, however, and it was Terry who missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out, slipping in his run-up and hitting the post.
Jamie Carragher (Liverpool FC)
A superb man-marker and tackler who has long ago dispelled questions about his pace, Carragher stood tall in a Liverpool back line that struggled to find cohesion at times. Having long ago broken Ian Callaghan's record for UEFA club competition appearances, the immovable 30-year-old became only the 12th player in Liverpool's 116-year history to make over 500 appearances.
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United FC)
"The best centre-half in the world by far," according to Sir Alex Ferguson, Ferdinand had a memorable 2007/08 campaign. He helped United defend the Premier League title, captained them in their victorious UEFA Champions League final, skippered England and scored four goals in a season for the first time. Imperious in the air, fleet of foot and ever maturing, at times he was simply everywhere. Indeed, when United experienced their sole disappointment – elimination by Portsmouth FC in the FA Cup – Ferdinand was in goal, volunteering to take the gloves after Tomasz Kuszczak's dismissal.
Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona)
He may have started out as a right-back, but it would be difficult to imagine Puyol anywhere but at the heart of Barcelona's defence. The 2007/08 campaign was not a particularly successful one by the Catalan club's lofty standards but they did reach the last four of the UEFA Champions League. And while Barça's attacking firepower is much admired, it was a defence marshalled by Puyol that got them there, conceding just six goals in 12 games.
Nemanja Vidić (Manchester United FC)
Highly regarded for his physical presence, aerial ability, bravery and threat at set-pieces, Vidić built on a superb first full season at Old Trafford with an even better second. Despite recurrent injuries, he missed just six games as United successfully defended their Premier League title and with he and Rio Ferdinand forming a formidable partnership at the heart of the back line, the UEFA Champions League followed. Sir Alex Ferguson's assertion soon after Vidić's arrival that "we've done well there" is starting to look like an understatement.