John Terry at Forest: When Chelsea's Captain, Leader, Legend played for someone else

John Terry Nottingham Forest loan

How the Blues' legendary former skipper became a short-term hero at the City Ground

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John Terry wasn't really wanted at Chelsea. World Cup-winning French fancies Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly were Gianluca Vialli's centre-backs, veteran Jes Hogh was reminding people he still existed and, rightly or wrongly, Emerson Thome was getting a lot of game time as well.

It seemed there was no need for this English teenager to hang around for the end of the 1999/2000 campaign.

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest supporters couldn't wait for the season to end.

Having finished bottom of the Premier League, the Reds' bid to go straight back up under player-manager David Platt was falling apart like a wet flan

Six games by the Trent

Having finished bottom of the Premier League, the Reds' bid to go straight back up under player-manager David Platt was falling apart like a wet flan. When Johnny Forest Fan heard a young loanee was to be their 11th centre-back that season, he probably didn’t rush to take his head out of the oven.

But like a sun-kissed holiday fling, Terry and Forest came together for a beautiful six-game relationship. “Right from the off, he was clearly better than any other centre-half we’d used that season,” raves supporter Andy Kerr. “He was brave, aerially dominant, read the game well and had no problems bossing his older, more senior partners at centre-back. He appeared quicker than all of them, too, which only goes to illustrate how slow they were. Actually, we didn’t lose with Terry in a Forest shirt.”

John Terry Nottingham Forest

JT certainly didn't get his shorts pulled down by the likes of Fulham's Geoff Horsfield

The future England captain’s famed commitment passion-bordering-on-psychotic, was evident even then. “We had some snow,” recalls team-mate Christian Edwards, “and the lads would go to training all wrapped up – but John would train in a pair of shorts, happily sliding and diving around in the snow.

“Everyone else was thinking, ‘What's he doing?’ You could see he was a natural born leader as well: he was outgoing and vocal, and really liked to banter and play around.”

The next season, Forest finished mid-table again (and are yet to return to the Premier League’s warm embrace), while a 20-year-old Terry started half of Chelsea’s league games despite the challenge of Desailly, Leboeuf and, erm, Winston Bogarde.


  • Forest 1-1 Charlton (on as sub, 30')
  • Birmingham 0-1 Forest (90')
  • Forest 0-0 Sheff United (90')
  • Fulham 1-1 Forest (90')
  • Forest 2-0 Port Vale (90')
  • Stockport 2-3 Forest (90')

But things could have turned out very, very differently. With Vialli willing to sell Terry, clubs were on red alert – including Steve Bruce’s Huddersfield. “I bid £750,000 for him, a lot of money then, and Chelsea accepted it,” Bruce later revealed. “But the boy didn’t want to leave Stamford Bridge.”

Terry stayed at Chelsea to fight for a place, and the rest is history. At times controversial, but successful history.

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