Gary Cahill has hit back at those who doubt his Chelsea future and insists his time at the club has been a “massive success”.
The club captain was dropped for key matches against Manchester City and Manchester United in the Premier League, as well as the Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona, but has shown good form since returning to the starting line-up.
The 32-year-old admits he is aware of Chelsea fans who are eager to see him replaced in the longer term, whether head coach Antonio Conte stays at the club or not.
However, Cahill believes winning six trophies in six years – including two Premier League titles and the Champions League – since signing from Bolton Wanderers for £7million in 2012 underlines his importance to the team.
“I’m sure the club bought me at that stage to be a squad player,” he told the Telegraph. “For £7million, and the fact I’m English and qualify for home-grown, 100 per cent, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realise ‘okay, they’ve brought me in to be one of four or five’. That’s the feeling I got when I came here. But I can remember how determined, how hungry, I was to make this a success.
“The majority of Chelsea fans have been unbelievable to me, but there is maybe an element of five per cent always thinking ‘get the next best thing in’ or ‘move him on’. I can feel that in a certain percentage.
“It always seems to be that when someone is signed, it’s ‘oh, Cahill’s on his way’. I’ve had that for as long as I can remember being at this club. Last year, John Terry was captain off the pitch but I was captain the majority of the time on the pitch and yet I’m hearing ‘Cahill might be fighting for his place’.
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“We smashed records last year, up until now with Manchester City breaking them, I captained the team, won the title again for the second time, got to an FA Cup final, and you are still hearing you are in trouble. It sometimes annoys me, but the reality is I was in no trouble because the club showed faith in me and we went on to dominate the league.
“To come for £7million, bought to be a squad player, to go on and win two Premier Leagues and team of the year three out of the last four, and then get the armband, for that money. Does that happen?
“People go for £30million, £40million, £50million at this moment in time and don’t make the level at the club they are at, leave after a season and nothing is spoken about.
“When you break that down, whether you like me or not, you can’t say that’s not massive success and I’m still hungry to have more.”
Cahill is desperate to end a difficult season on a high by winning the FA Cup final against Manchester United, having lost last year in a Wembley showdown with Arsenal.
“I was really disappointed last season because we won the league early and, rightly so, it was a relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “We enjoyed the rest of the league and tried to switch on the week before to play the final, and I think we put up as short a performance in that game as we had all season.
“I felt like it was one we let slip away, that we let get away. So, I feel blessed at the minute that we are gearing up for another one and it’s one that could save a big chunk of the season. However you dress it up, that final is a huge, huge game.”
When asked if he would prefer to finish in the top four or win the cup final, he replied: “I know that it is vitally important for the club to be in the Champions League, in terms of everything, and it’s something that Chelsea is used to being involved in.
“But a trophy is a trophy and you are talking to an Englishman who knows the meaning of the FA Cup and has watched the FA Cup since I have been small. Maybe it’s different for the foreign lads who come over, I’m not sure. But, for me, the FA Cup is huge.”
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