Terry dries his tears
© AFP

John Terry is not the only footballer to show his softer side amid a torrent of tears, but he might be the most surprising. Paul Gascoigne, Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo have also allowed their emotions to overwhelm them on the grandest stages but their volatile characters almost demanded such histrionics.

Terry, however, is Chelsea's man of steel, raised on the rough 'n' tumble streets of Barking and determinedly macho to a fault. Yet, on a rain-swept night in Moscow three months ago, the pain of losing the UEFA Champions League final to Manchester United proved just too much.

Broken by the knowledge that he had fumbled the chance to claim club football's most glittering crown, missing a potentially decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the teams had been deadlocked after 120 minutes, Terry was in tatters, stumbling around the Luzhniki stadium's sodden turf as if in a trance, sobbing uncontrollably.

The convulsions continued in the dressing room but there is no more effective balm for battered spirits than the onset of a new season.

Now, Terry and Chelsea have the opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of a campaign which, having promised so much, ultimately delivered nothing, United having also pipped their London rivals in the Premier League title race.

No time to brood
In truth, Terry has had little chance to dwell on his disappointment. He was immediately pitched into international action with a brace of friendlies for England, with the onus on impressing new manager Fabio Capello, and there has also been a fresh face to dazzle at Chelsea's Cobham headquarters, after Luiz Felipe Scolari was appointed to replace the sacked Avram Grant.

The Brazilian wasted little time in identifying Terry as his talisman for his debut season. "I like him as a captain, as a player and as a leader," he said. "On my first day in the job, he came to my office and said: 'Gaffer, I am John Terry.' I replied: 'Don't worry, I know all about you!' He is the captain of the team and very important for us."

Terry is Scolari's kind of player: whole-hearted, utterly fearless and an instinctive organiser and leader of footballers. The new manager understands the importance of Terry as a bridge between the dressing room and the management team, just as Jose Mourinho did before him, and their relationship will be a crucial strand in the narrative of Chelsea's season.

For his part, Terry has been impressed by the new man and there is certainly more chance of symbiosis with Scolari than there ever was with the taciturn Grant, whose failure to convince his captain and other senior players of his credentials was a key factor in his abrupt sacking.

"The gaffer understands football and he understands the lads," Terry said. "Pre-season has been good. Actually, it has been very different. Under Jose, we never did any running, but, with Scolari, we have had our trainers on and done 1,000 metres, which is similar to the [former managers Gianluca] Vialli and [Claudio] Ranieri style of thinking. And I feel great. We are feeling good, we are looking good and we are preparing well."

Terry is also aware that leading Scolari's new-look Blues with aplomb cannot fail to impress Capello, who has yet to decide on the identity of his next permanent captain.

England are next in action against the Czech Republic on 20 August, and being handed the armband at Wembley would give the Londoner a timely pep as he aims to banish the memory of Moscow.