Manchester United defender Chris Smalling believes John Terry is one of the best role models for any aspiring centre-half in the world.
Terry, 35, has been at Chelsea for his entire 18-year professional playing career – besides a short loan spell at Nottingham Forest – but is rumoured to be on his way out of the club at the end of the season.
The former England international’s contract runs out at the end of the 2015-16 campaign and talks over his future are at a stand-still.
However, as United prepare to face Terry and Chelsea on Monday, Smalling has hailed Terry as one of the best defenders in the business.
“Anyone who wants to be a centre-half would have to say that John Terry is a role model,” the 26-year-old told The Mirror.
“Every centre-half in the game would agree with that. It is the way he leads the team and the way he reads the game.
“John has never had blistering pace, but he didn’t need it because he’s always in the right place for every situation.
“He also gets the other players to work around him and that has enabled him to have such a great career and, technically, he is also very good. He is excellent with both feet and that makes a massive difference.”
Smalling said he would be surprised to see Terry let go by Chelsea.
“I was surprised to hear about John. He has said it isn’t the end for him, but he has been terrific for Chelsea,” he added.
“John is a class performer. He has played all season and, while Chelsea’s results haven’t been great, I have no doubt that he’s definitely got more years in the locker.
“I would put him right up there with the very best. I don’t know who would be one and two in the list, but John would have to be right up at the top.”
Chelsea host United at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday.