Imagining a Chelsea Without Captain, Leader, Legend John Terry

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

Chelsea's John Terry applauds the fans as he walks around the pitch at the end of their English Premier League soccer match against Norwich City, at the Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Sunday, May 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran)
Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

John Terry and Chelsea have a defining decision to make in the coming weeks: Will he stay or will he go?

The Chelsea captain's contract expires at the end of June and so far there hasn't been too much by way of developments outside of inevitable rumor-mongering.

Sky Sports suggested in April Terry was close to signing a one-year extension, although more recently The Mirror has intimated his days at Stamford Bridge are numbered.

Where will it all end? For some Blues fans, the latter is almost too much to consider.

After all, Terry is one of them. He came through the ranks at Chelsea and has gone on to become the most successful player to captain the club, winning three league titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.

Had it not been for suspension and injury respectively, he would have captained Chelsea to Champions League and Europa League glory in 2012 and 2013.

The banner hanging proudly in the Matthew Harding Stand behind the goal he helps defend so heroically reads: Captain, Leader, Legend.

And John Terry is.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

There will be a time when his body can no longer take the brutal hits week after week, but that isn't right now.

Allowing Terry to leave this summer, especially after the season he has just had, would be premature. It would be an act of folly on a monumental scale.

With Jose Mourinho back at the helm, the 33-year-old has enjoyed a renaissance, a return to self.

Leading from the front as ever, Terry has been among the club's most consistent performers, helping Chelsea to record the best defensive record in the Premier League.

His influence is about so much more than what happens on the pitch, however.

MATT DUNHAM/Associated Press

Terry has worn his Mr. Chelsea tag as a badge of honor throughout his illustrious career. By losing him, Chelsea will be losing a significant part of what makes the club what it is.

There have been scandals, damning indictments on his character, yet it's never impacted his relationship with the Blues and the club's supporters. If anything, it's made it stronger.

Every club needs a figurehead and Terry is Chelsea's. Should he leave now, who is there to pick up the mantle?

The answer is simple: Nobody.

In the Chelsea squad right now, there is no other player who carries the authority and leadership Terry does. Frank Lampard comes close, but at 35 and with his contract also set to expire, question marks are also hanging over his future.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 30:  Captain John Terry (3rdL) of Chelsea lifts the trophy with Frank Lampard following victory during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Final match between Chelsea and Everton at Wembley Stadium on May 30, 2009 in London, England.  (Phot
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Terry is the connection from the terraces to the boardroom and in some ways, that's more valuable than anything he can do on the pitch.

The political impact he has is not to be underestimated. Without him, Chelsea run the risk of everything they're trying to build crumbling.

When Mourinho first departed Stamford Bridge, we saw the impact that losing a man of such significance can have on a club. There was no replacement lined up and the Blues struggled to get over the loss.

Reaching the Champions League final that year only acted to paper over the cracks.

Mourinho had left before his time was up. It was too sudden and now Chelsea have returned to him to take the club forward once more.

At Terry's age, hindsight is a luxury both he and the club do not have, though. They're strongest together and the quicker they realize that, the better it will be for all involved.

Ahead of the last home game of 2013-14, Terry outlined in his programme notes just what it means to represent Chelsea. He even included a photo of himself as a youngster in Chelsea colors.

The Blues have all the money they need to buy talented players, but they cannot buy that level of sentiment that breeds a sense of belonging and culture.

They need their captain, leader, legend as much now as ever before.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes


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