He has become, at times, a figure of controversy but has never let that get in the way of his dedication to the team he plays for or captains.
Yes, he has made mistakes in his life and among friends is probably honest enough to admit that. But who among us is a saint? As the Bible says:
"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone..."
He may just have been found guilty by the FA of racist remarks, but Jose Mourinho and others have gone out of their way to make clear that John Terry is not, in their opinion, a racist.
From his point of view, you can understand why he may, in frustration, have retired from playing for England following the way he has been messed around with. There is no credible reason why the Anton Ferdinand case shouldn't have been heard in 2011.
The FA now looks stupid and they have lost one of the best, most loyal and committed captains and centre-backs England has ever had.
So who can step into his shoes?
We're not looking for a clone here, because each talented player brings different qualities. It is traditional to think in terms of one captain. But these days, you need captains all across the pitch.
The goalkeeper has to command his penalty area, as Edwin Van Der Sar and Peter Schmeichel did. It is often thought that the best place for captain is in midfield, like a Roy Keane.
But you still need a commander in the heart of the defence, barking the orders, keeping the shape and putting his body on the line. Those qualities summed up John Terry.
So, at the very least you would want those attributes in the player who can step into his shoes.
It is no surprise that Rio Ferdinand has been touted now that Terry has gone, but Roy Hodgson appears to have discounted him because he will be 36 at the next World Cup.
It would be unusual to find a young player with the qualities and maturity to do all these things. There are some who might become that man, but we are probably talking about an established player.
So in summary, irrespective of age, England and Chelsea (eventually) need a man with John Terry's or Gary Neville's leadership qualities, ideally a bit more pace than Terry and a bit more ability than both if possible.