The Champions League “owes something” to Chelsea captain John Terry due to the previous disappointments that he has endured in the competition, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
Terry, 33, has been passed fit to play in the second leg of Chelsea’s semi-final at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday after limping off with an ankle injury in last week’s first leg, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
Mourinho initially ruled Terry out until at least the final, which takes place in Lisbon on May 24, but his return to fitness suggests that his luck in the tournament may be beginning to turn.
Terry could have given Chelsea their first ever Champions League trophy in the 2008 final against Manchester United in Moscow, only to slip as he took a spot-kick in the penalty shootout, sending the ball wide.
A subsequent failed attempt by Nicolas Anelka gave United the trophy and although Chelsea prevailed on penalties in the final against Bayern Munich four years later, Terry did not play due to suspension.
He was also banned for last season’s Europa League final success against Benfica, although, as he had done in 2012, he received the trophy in his full kit alongside his teammates.
“I think the Champions League owes him something,” Mourinho said during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“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.”
– No England U-turn –
Terry seemed to be getting eased out at Stamford Bridge under former interim manager Rafael Benitez, but he has been rejuvenated since Mourinho’s return last year, marshalling the meanest defence in the Premier League.
“My captain is playing at the same level as when I left Chelsea in 2007-08,” Mourinho added.
“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’s displays have prompted calls for him to return to the England fold, 19 months after he retired from international football following the Football Association’s decision to strip him of the captaincy over allegations he had racially abused Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand.
However, despite the apparent lure of a potential place in manager Roy Hodgson’s squad for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, Terry said that he had no intention of reversing his decision.
“For me, 100 percent, I’m going to be on my holidays in the summer, I’m going to be nowhere else,” he 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 the very best.”