John Terry Awards Himself A Guard Of Honor While Luis Enrique Bows Out The Back Door
The premeditated pomp and choreographed farewell that John Terry bid Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge on Sunday stood in stark contrast to Luis Enrique’s final match at the Camp Nou. While the feel-good factor in the southwest of London as compared to the tension-riddled atmosphere at the Camp Nou could go someway towards explaining these divergent going away parties, the real variation was really only in the respective men of honor.
What they’ve offered to their respective clubs really doesn't set them apart — they both are, to borrow a line from Bridge supporters, captains, leaders and legends.
John Terry (playing career w/ Chelsea): 717 appearances, five Premier League titles, five FA Cup triumphs and one UEFA Champions League trophy
Luis Enrique (playing and management career w/ Barcelona combined): 480 matches, four La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey triumphs (with the possibility of a fifth on Saturday) and one UEFA Champions League trophy
On Sunday, John Terry himself planned a 26th-minute substitution in homage to his own number. Terry later revealed that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had wanted the younger players to play the entire match rather than the likes of Terry, who’d gone the full 90 against Watford on Monday night.
“I kind of negotiated with the manager to play 26 minutes and come off,” Terry told Sky Sports. “I think [Conte] wanted to get the boys that didn’t play on Monday night against Watford and give them a run-out. It was a compromise between the two of us.”
Was John Terry's send off Beautiful or Embarrassing?
RT - Embarrassing
Like - Beautiful pic.twitter.com/RjugQnUgnc
— TFT (@TFTYouTube) May 21, 2017
Terry’s sad and emotional farewell began after scoring against Watford on Monday, a selfless act that brought the Chelsea captain to tears. It continued after Sunday’s match with a sobbing address to supporters after the game: “Today is one of the most difficult days of my life…We all have to thank Roman Abramovich. I’d like to thank him and all the board. He’s the best owner in world football.”
When Luis Enrique retired at Barcelona in 2004 after eight seasons and 109 goals, it was done through his website. “I don’t see myself being able to compete,” he wrote. “I’ll watch this season from my seat in the stands.”
While both Terry and Enrique maintained that they are fully focused on the task at hand after their final league matches (an FA Cup final vs. Arsenal for Chelsea, a Copa del Rey final vs. Alaves for Barcelona), the significance of the occassion was only demonstrated in London.
Should any of this really come as a surprise when, in the one hand, we have the player who nefariously dressed in full kit in an attempt to rewrite history despite being suspended for the 2012 Champions League final, and, in the other, we have the coach who showed up to his final home match in suit and trainers?
Perhaps we should be more sympathetic towards Terry’s own understanding of his standing within the club — Chelsea supporters certainly seem to mirror the regard with which he holds himself. His playing career coincides entirely with Chelsea’s rise to dominance. He is part and parcel of the Chelsea story, he’s a main protagonist dating back to the club’s new beginnings in 2004.
Enrique, meanwhile, simply sees himself as another cog in the immensely successful and historic machine that is Barcelona. “When I accepted the job I knew it would be short-lived,” said Enrique. “Barca’s history is full of moments like this. People come and go. I am very proud to have formed part of that history. I am a privileged one and next season I will be at the Camp Nou for many games as a fan.”
Enrique seemed to share a laugh with an assistant upon seeing a banner reading “Forever one of ours” at the Camp Nou, and it’s easy to see why: “I don’t care about [a legacy], I will simply keep the affection that I have received from the players, the club and the fans close to me.”
Perhaps John Nicholson of Football365 came closest to pinpointing this bizarre expression of reciprocal love between man and fan at Chelsea: “The concept of loyalty should not be separate from selflessness. Sticking by someone or something when you have nothing to gain, or when you could benefit by not doing so, is the most important quality in loyalty. Benefiting from 100 million pounds when no-one else would have paid you so much for so long, feels well short of the loyalty mark.
"Had he played for Chelsea for £500 per week when he could have earned £50,000 elsewhere because he loves Chelsea, now that’d be real loyalty. Loyalty needs a test. But this isn’t about Terry per se. Nor about his achievements, crimes, success or failures necessarily. It’s just about being a grown-up and acting appropriately towards footballers. You applaud and cheer your team season after season, but what is the need to establish a footballer as ‘a legend’ all about? What do people get out of that?
"As I say, to hear some of Terry’s supporters it feels to me like they admire him, not as a footballer, but as a man, which doesn’t exactly help matters feel any less weird or any more comfortable.”
Luis Enrique will leave Barcelona with the memory of having been a very good manager, Terry leaves Chelsea with a sort of despotic fervor that makes you happy to see the gradual end of football’s one-club men.