John Terry has been announced as a new assistant coach at Aston Villa following the dismissal of Steve Bruce and appointment of Dean Smith to the manager’s post. This came just days after the Chelsea legend officially retired from his playing career, after he spent the whole of last season turning out for the Villa Park club.
Terry’s retirement has brought up the argument in many quarters of where he ranks among the greatest Premier League centre-backs of all time. Here is our list of five, in ascending order.
- Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell broke the heart of every Tottenham Hotspur fan when he left White Hart Lane to join Arsenal in 2001. To make matters worse, he left on a free transfer and turned out to be a star for the Gunners. Campbell made an immediate impression at Highbury, as he played an integral part in the team that went on to win the Premiership and FA Cup double in his first season.
One year later, he was joined at the club by Ivorian Kolo Touré. Together, they formed the foundation of the 2003/04 “Invincibles” side who went the entire season without losing a single match.
- Nemanja Vidić
Nemanja Vidić joined Manchester United from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 alongside left-back Patrice Evra, who signed from Monaco. The two defenders struggled to find their feet in their first six months in England. When they eventually settled into the team at the beginning of the 2006/07 season, it was to devastating effect. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would win three consecutive Premier League titles, including the 2007/08 season when they also won the Champions League.
- Vincent Kompany
Since his arrival in England, Vincent Kompany’s career has been blighted by injuries. It is a mark of just how good and influential he has been that he nevertheless makes it to our top three. Kompany joined Manchester City before the riches of Sheikh Mansour arrived, and the subsequent head-spinning success for the club. In fact, he remains the only player to pre-date the Etihad era and, as such, will forever be synonymous with the momentous transformation City have enjoyed in the last decade.
As their captain and best centre-half, Kompany has led City to unimagined success, namely three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cup trophies.
- John Terry
Having John Terry in second place is contentious for many people. After all, none of the other defenders on this list can claim to have enjoyed the kind of success he did in his time at Chelsea. One of the things that sets Terry apart is his longevity. He joined the youth ranks of the club in 1997 and was promoted to the first team two years later. After a short stint on loan to Nottingham Forest, he returned to Stamford Bridge, where he was a fixture in the first team until he left the club last year.
As a player, Terry never had great pace but he was almost impossible to beat in one-on-one situations.
- Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand’s trophy haul reads interestingly close to that of Terry. He won six Premier League titles, one more than Terry’s five, while both enjoyed success in the Champions League just once in their respective careers. They won the League Cup three times each, but Terry can boast of three extra FA Cups and a Europa League trophy. Ferdinand missed a significant chunk of the record 1,311 minutes that United went without conceding a goal in 2008/09, although he still featured in eight of those 15 matches.
A complete modern defender is mainly judged on two aspects; defensive prowess and their ability to play the ball out from the back. Ferdinand was a fast, clean and effective defender who can claim to have probably been better than anyone else in building play up from the back.