Manager Steve Bruce has been speaking about John Terry and he feels he’ll relish the physicality of the Championship this coming season.
With Terry now being at Villa for a month following his free agent arrival from Chelsea, fans have had chance to watch him action and judge his attitude as our new skipper and the vast majority have been clearly impressed.
That applies to Bruce as well who told the Birmingham Mail that having now seen Terry in action both in terms of on and off the pitch he’s more than convinced he’s bagged the signing of the summer.
‘Driving into the training ground, I just heard Dean Saunders say on the radio that he thought John Terry was the best signing of the summer. After working with John – watching him first-hand for two or three weeks – I can only say that I agree. It`s everything about him, what he brings in terms of presence. The way he trains, the way he prepares, the way he looks after himself. I`ve just been away with the squad. It`s raining like you wouldn`t believe, we`re in a match that means nothing in the middle of nowhere and he`s competing like it`s the World Cup final. I just thought, ‘Wow!` – he`s 36 and he`s in magnificent shape.’
Bruce went on to admit that in reality he thought that with the offers Terry would get this summer there wasn’t much of a possibility that we would get his signature, but again he feels that’s a testament to Terry wanting success outside of Chelsea and also a reflection on Villa as a whole despite our poorer years in recent times.
‘I honestly never thought we would get him. I thought there would be suitors in the Premier League. But if ever I needed reminding how big Aston Villa is, this has done it. He is used to winning, doing things right. Everything he does, he does right. They don`t come along very often, people like him. He is a leader. He`s all of those things. But he`s also a fabulous player. You don`t realise how good he is until you are working with him. Left foot, right foot. In the air. What an athlete.’
With Bruce often speaking about players needing to handle the pressure and expectation of Villa Park, that’s one thing he knows won’t faze Terry at all given the career he’s had and in turn that can only help others at the club.
‘I needed people to come here and handle Aston Villa. He can handle this place. It`s easy to see why he became captain of Chelsea and England. The idea of leading Aston Villa appealed to him. He wanted to succeed somewhere other than Chelsea. All he asked when he spoke to me was, ‘We have got to be in with a chance of getting promoted`. I said to him, ‘Look, I`ve still got some work to do, in terms of recruitment, but Aston Villa has got to be up there`.’
Talking about his initial approach, Bruce certainly didn’t waste any time as he admitted his first phone call came in the build up to the FA Cup Final.
‘I initially made the call to him in the week leading up to the FA Cup Final. He said, ‘Steve, I`m preparing for the final. I don`t want any distractions. But give me a call afterwards`. I met Steve Round, the director of football, and Keith Wyness, the club`s chief executive officer, and put the proposition to them about John and they jumped at it. He`s exactly what we need. And our owner, Dr Tony Xia, pulled out all the stops as well. He realised that something like this doesn`t come along very often.’
With Terry not being shy when it comes to the physicality of the game, Bruce thinks he’ll handle the Championship just fine even if like Villa themselves, he becomes an effective scalp for some players.
‘John hasn`t come here to mess about. He enjoys the physical element. He will enjoy people trying to bash him up. He knows what`s coming. People will be looking for him. But he`ll leave a mark on a few of them as well, if that`s what they want. He`s a bit like I was as a player, in that way where you enjoy a physical challenge. If an opponent was going to try and beat me up, I`d say to myself, ‘Let`s see what you`ve got` – although, looking at my face these days, a few of them were successful! John`s still a good-looking chap. Well, it was a different era back then that`s my excuse, anyway!’
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