Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes captain John Terry deserves to play in the Champions League final after numerous disappointments in the latter stages of the competition.
Terry is fit to play in tonight’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid, despite hobbling off in last Tuesday’s goalless first leg with an ankle injury, as the Blues bid to claim a place in the 24 May final in Lisbon. The 33-year-old missed the decisive penalty in the 2008 final loss to Manchester United in Moscow and was absent for the 2012 win in Munich through suspension, although he wore his full playing kit to lift the trophy.
“I think the Champions League owes him something,” Mourinho said. “I think he deserves more than the Champions League has given to him till now. He lost a few semi-finals in special circumstances; he lost the final also in special circumstances. He won a final, also in special circumstances, because he couldn’t play the final. My captain is playing at the same level as when I left Chelsea in 2007-08. Six or seven years later he is playing at his best level. It’s fair to say that.
“It’s also fair to say that the people that surround him are playing also fantastic. I think his partnership with (Gary) Cahill is fantastic and people that work together in the same areas they are doing a fantastic job. I’m really happy to see a player like him, six or seven years later, to be back to the same level.”
Terry, who was also injured for last season’s Europa League final win over Benfica in Amsterdam, insisted the door was closed on his England career and revealed he is in discussions to extend his Chelsea contract.
He retired from international football in September 2012 amid the Anton Ferdinand racism saga in which he was hit with a Football Association ban and he is adamant he will not be going to Brazil.
“For me, 100 per cent, I’m going to be on my holidays in the summer, I’m going to be nowhere else,” Terry said. “I’ve made that very clear. My thoughts are very strong on that – maybe people don’t realise how strong. I certainly wish the England side and Roy [Hodgson, the England manager] the very best. When you look at people like Gaz [Cahill] in great form, serving his country very well, we’ll be okay in all departments, I’m sure.
“I’ll be there watching every game and supporting the lads with a nice bit of sun.”
Terry’s current contract expires at the end of the season and he hopes to stay at Stamford Bridge for some time to come. “It’s the club I’ve been at since the age of 14; there’s been nowhere else,” Terry said.
“Clearly I want to stay for the rest of my footballing days. After that I certainly hope so as well. At the minute we’re in talks and ongoing. We’ve had big games around us, so we haven’t spoken for a few weeks.
“I’m hoping it gets done. It’s down to the club. They know I want to stay, I’ve made that very clear to them. And hopefully things can be wrapped up before the end of the season. A lot of people within football ruled me out last year. That’s enough to spur you on and fight for the club. That’s what I aim to do for the rest of my playing days, whether that’s a year, two years, three years.”
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone shares Mourinho’s belief that winning is all that matters as the Spanish leaders bid to eliminate Chelsea from the Champions League.
Following a goalless draw in the first leg at the Vicente Calderon Stadium last week and Sunday’s win at Premier League leaders Liverpool, Mourinho’s defensive tactics were questioned. Simeone did not add to the criticism, instead admitting to respecting a well-organised team such as Mourinho’s.
“I’m a football man, I respect different ways of setting out your team,” Simeone said. “You can play ten at the back or you can play ten at the front. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the result. It depends what you believe is the convenient way of playing and who you’re playing against. To defend well is not easy, so you have to congratulate a team that defends well. To attack well is not easy either, so you have to congratulate also a team that goes on the attack. It’s important that, regardless of how you play, that the team wins. There is not one way of playing football. If we all played the same way it would be very boring.”
Atletico are on the verge of an historic season which could finish with the Primera Division title and a Champions League final, with Simeone responsible for much of the progress the club has made in his two-and-a-half years as boss.
“I’m not thinking about what we’ve achieved,” Simeone said. “I’m not focusing on where we are at the moment, I’m just focusing on keeping on moving forward.”
Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to play at Stamford Bridge for first time as a Chelsea player. The Belgium goalkeeper joined the Blues from Genk but has spent three years on loan in Madrid.
Courtois has become one of the most sought-after goalkeepers in Europe during his time at Atletico and has been backed by Simeone to handle the pressure.
Simeone added: “I think he’ll be able to handle the pressure without any problem. He’s working hard to compete, to be one of the best goalkeepers at the moment. So far, he’s still a very young player. He’s still a player that’s growing. He still needs the time to mature and to grow.”
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
• Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.
A line-up of experts will handle your questions after each BT Sport game. Most match days, the team includes Darrell Currie, Derek Rae and Gary McAllister.
Over this season, BT Sport will air 30 SPFL matches plus 10 Rangers games from the SPFL League One.
• T&C We can not guarantee which presenters will answer your questions. Questions are vetted and no correspondence will be entered into.