The Curious Spectacle Of John Terry’s Aston Villa Unveiling

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The one thing pretty much all seemed to agree upon was that it was the weirdest picture they had ever seen. Standing alone, wearing one shirt and holding another, was John Terry – Chelsea’s Captain, Leader, Legend – in the colours of Aston Villa.

We had all known this day was coming: but nothing could quite prepare anyone for the full visual assault of probably the club’s greatest ever servant – clad in the claret and blue of the midlands.Amid the occasional crying tears emoji on social media, and a series of other disparate emotional tangents, it was the sheer oddness of the thing upon which comment was most widely passed.

Aside from the strange juxtaposition of man and colours, there was the composition of the photo itself: why was he both wearing the shirt and holding it? And what was behind that curious smile: three parts rictus, to one part Mona Lisa?

Some were clearly hurt, not least by the chosen destination for Terry’s twilight days. Did he not recall the day a solid section of the Holte End called to ‘let him die’ as he lay injured on the pitch – the very same day on which Chelsea’s travelling support had earlier shown warmth through applause for Stiliyan Petrov in his battle against leukaemia.

At least, others concluded, it wasn’t that other claret and blue – the one which once seemed to so confuse David Cameron in stating his claimed allegiances.

Terry explained the destination by saying that he had never wanted to go somewhere he might have to line-up against Chelsea: with one stroke ensuring that the FA Cup’s random third round draw would pair the two together in January.

A more likely deciding factor, of course, will surely have been Dr Tony Xia’s offer: reportedly amounting to £60k a week, plus a promised £2m promotion bonus – truly a remarkable package for a 36-year-old in the Championship.

But in truth, other than a smattering of look-at-me trolls, no Chelsea fan could begrudge Terry’s actions.

Over the course of 22 years, he had more than earned the right to decide where his carer should end, once released by the Blues. There was a recent precedent, mind: the sleight of hand which cast Frank Lampard in light blue, via a seemingly convenient stop-over in New York. Some insisted that had been a weirder sight: though, having seen Lampard run around in that other claret and blue for some time prior to joining Chelsea, others felt at least a little better prepared.

But fair to say, in terms of weirdness, the episode where he scored past the Chelsea defence at The Etihad, and the ensuing reactions of both he and all assembled, will truly take some beating.

Terry’s move will be one that keeps people talking for the full length of his Villa Park deal. And, should he secure that £2m bonus, discussion over his plans for the following campaign may well break the internet.

But for now, at least, those widespread wishes for his success under Steve Bruce are both genuine and well-meaning. Even if the whole concept of what he is about to undertake has completely weirded-out the support of a club where the strangest of events have long seemed commonplace.

Dan Levene is a journalist of 20 years standing, who has covered the soap opera of Chelsea Football Club for more than a decade. In that time he has reported on the reigns of 10 managers, and a haul of 15 trophies - from Wycombe to Yokohama, via Munich.

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