Smiles better: John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in action for England, but who is the superior player though?
Ahead of Manchester United’s mouth-watering clash with Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, we compare and contrast opposing central defenders John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
Each man has captained both his country and his club over the years, while also winning everything that there is to in the domestic game. However in the cold light of day, which of the two centre-backs is the better player?
John Terry vs. Rio Ferdinand
Current clubs: Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Other clubs: Nottingham Forest (loan) vs. West Ham United, Bournemouth (loan) and Leeds United
Born: East London vs. South London
Age: 33 vs. 35
Height: 1.87m vs. 1.89m
Premier League debut: Southampton (a), December 1998 vs. Sheffield Wednesday (h), May 1996
Premier League games: 408 vs. 485
Premier League goals: 34 vs. 11
Total domestic games: 602 vs. 685
Total domestic goals: 57 vs. 12
The two defenders have built up remarkably similar club statistics, the only real difference being Terry’s greater goal threat, but when it comes to top-flight centre-backs over the last 15 years, it is hard really to look much past these two irrepressible figures.
England debut: Serbia and Montenegro, 2003 vs. Cameroon, 1997
England retirement: 2012 vs. 2011
England caps: 78 vs. 81
England goals: 6 vs. 3
Both players captained the Three Lions during long and distinguished international careers. Each man also replaced the other in the role at one point, making it virtually impossible to separate the pair in this regard.
Premier League titles: 3 vs. 6
FA Cups: 5 vs. 0
League Cups: 2 vs. 2
FA Community Shields: 2 vs. 5
UEFA Champions Leagues: 1 vs. 1
UEFA Europa Leagues: 1 vs. 0
FIFA Club World Cup: 0 vs. 1
PFA Player of the Year: 1 vs. 0
As befits a duo who have featured for the two most successful English clubs sides of the past 15 years, each man has won pretty much everything that there is to in the game, both domestically and in Europe, too.
However, Ferdinand does have the edge when it comes to Premier League titles, leading the way with six top-flight medals to Terry’s three, while both have also won Europe’s premier club competition once as well.
While each man has captained both his club and country over the years, it is Terry who is the more obvious natural-born leader of the two, with his vocal presence there to see at all times on the field of play.
And this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Terry has been skippering the West London club since the 2003-04 season, while Ferdinand was just an occasional captain of the Red Devils.
There is no denying that Terry has proved the more robust of the centre-backs during the course of their respective careers, although Ferdinand has been playing two years longer than his rival.
However, the United veteran has definitely been more restricted by his ailing back in the recent past, with the problem really starting to compromise the player from the 2009-10 campaign onwards.
In stark contrast, Terry has been pretty much a constant at the heart of the Chelsea back four since the 2000-01 season.
While we have so far touched on Terry's greater goal threat, leadership skills and on-pitch durability, what of the two centre-backs’ actual style of defensive play, though?
Well, Ferdinand has always been viewed as a continental-type sweeper with the ability to bring the ball out of defence at his feet before then starting off attacks with neat passes along the ground to team-mates.
In fact, former England coach Glenn Hoddle viewed a young Ferdinand as having the potential and passing range and ability to become a libero in the mould of, say, Franz Beckenbauer.
Equally, though, Ferdinand’s career has also been marked by losses of concentration at the back and often periods of casualness, characteristics that could never be attributed to Terry.
And that is because when you think of the Blues skipper, what immediately comes to mind is an image of an old-school, no-nonsense English-style central defender who has a though-shall-not-pass mentality about him at all times on the field of play.
However, it would also be grossly unfair to characterise Terry solely as being as a defensive stopper with little panache or touch to his game—that could not be further from the truth.
In fact, the Chelsea central defender has a surprisingly deft touch for such a big man, as well as an under-rated passing range that is the equal of his rivals.
And when that is taken into consideration, it is the Blues stalwart who just edges this particular one-on-one battle, with this season’s head-to-head statistics only further proving the point...
Terry has enjoyed an impressive comeback into the Chelsea team this season following mentor Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge last summer after the travails he endured in the previous campaign under interim boss Rafa Benitez.
And as his above Squawka stats show, when JT is fit and on song, there are few better players in his position in the Premier League.
With Ferdinand turning 36 in November, the years are finally starting to take their toll on the defender’s creaking body, with more frequent injuries now restricting his Premier League outings for the Red Devils.
And as we can see in the above comparison of the two defenders’ respective Premier League seasons to date, Terry has been far superior in defence, attack and possession, with the Chelsea player currently rated as the fourth-best centre back in the league, while Ferdinand is ranked way down in 78th place in the defensive standings.