Chelsea legend Terry meets local hospitality on his third visit to Maldives at Kuda Villingili

By Ahmed Mizyal

“I’m prepared to manage the national football team, if that were what it would take to stay in the Maldives,” says John Terry, former Chelsea FC captain, in an exclusive interview with Maldives Insider.

“If given the opportunity (to manage the national football team) I assure you that we can reach major competitions.”

The purpose behind the expression of interest is his fondness of the Maldives. Even if managing the national team is a justification, he describes as lucky to have been able to spend time in the Maldives.

A career of 20 years as a professional footballer, Terry was widely considered one of the best defenders in the world. He is a natural leader on and off the pitch having worn the armband leading England at the FIFA World Cup, having lifted numerous trophies, leading the team in the Champions League at Chelsea FC and captained at Premier League side Aston Villa. He is arguably the most decorated and successful captains in the history of Chelsea FC having won every major trophy England and Europe has to offer.

Praise to the Maldives and Kuda Villingili

Terry is not new to the Maldives. Spending his holiday with wife Toni Terry and family at Kuda Villingili Maldives, this is his third visit to the Maldives.

“Seeing it from afar you see that anywhere in Maldives is beautiful, but only when you arrive in Maldives do you see how beautiful it truly is,” says Terry.

Reflecting on his 10-day stay at Kuda Villingili, his approval and praise goes out to the entire operation of the resort. Despite having opened only last year, he noted that Kuda Villingili and its services are on par with resorts with far greater experience. In some instances, even better than the competition.

“The service at the restaurants was amazing; the beaches and the facilities were excellent. I have had the privilege to experience a lot of resorts and hotels around the world. Based on the level of service, it feels as though Kuda Villingili has been operational for 5-10 years. The time I have been able to spend here is amazing and it I am blessed to be here. My children are keen to return to the Maldives as well,” he says.

Celebrities who come to Maldives make their way straight to the resort and rarely get to experience local life. This was the case for Terry as well on his two previous visits. All that changed when he visited the local island of Thulusdhoo during this visit.

“I saw how Maldivians live and more importantly, how passionate Maldivians are about football and love for Chelsea. The reception at Thulusdhoo was amazing with children and adults alike. Maldivians are truly friendly and hospitable people,” says Terry, noting that he was fortunate to meet locals outside of the resort environment.

“The Premier League is one of the strongest leagues and it gives me great joy to see children aspiring to be players at the top level.”

Terry in Thulusdhoo. (INSIDER PHOTO/ SHAMMAN ZAHIR)

Attending as the guest of honour, Terry took the time to watch a friendly futsal match between Thulusdhoo and Kuda Villingili. Afterwards he met with supporters and signed autographs as well.

Football and Terry: Transitioning from a player to a coach

Having retired from professional football in 2018 after a star-studded career, Terry chose to go into coaching. Having recently been the assistant coach at Aston Villa, he is currently taking on the role of consultant at Chelsea FC academy based in Cobham.

“This is how it was destined to be, after all I will always be Blue. My aim and my dream is to one day be the manager of the first team of Chelsea FC. For the time being, working alongside the youth is vital and much needed,” Terry reflects on his return to Chelsea.

Terry during the exclusive interview with Maldives Insider. (PHOTO/ ABDULLA YASHAU)

Terry hopes to nurture and build a new generation of youth synonymous with the success the Chelsea name has carried. The move was motivated by reasons not limited to youth development.

“Playing at the highest level, you make a lot of sacrifices. Preparing for upcoming games, you rarely get to spend quality time with your children during their birthdays or holidays. Before, once the season starts, I would be occupied with football. In comparison, being at the academy now gives me a better work life balance. It is very special to me making up for lost time,” he says.

The twins, Summer and Georgie, 16, is an important part of Terry’s life, and he makes it a priority to spend time with them.

‘It’s coming home?’

English fans lay claim that modern day football and its rules find their roots in England. Regardless, having one of the top footballing leagues in the world, the English national team have little to show for it as a nation.

England have only won the FIFA World Cup once in their long history in 1966 when England were the hosts of the tournament. The chant ever since has been the same by the fans to this day, “It’s coming home! Football’s coming home!” The gist of the chant being that winning the tournament, the most prestigious trophy in world football, is coming home to its birthplace. World Cup 2022 is to be hosted by Qatar in November.

When asked, Terry had this to say: “That is what we keep saying.”

Terry signs his autograph for a fan. (PHOTO/ ABDULLA YASHAU)

The most recent major tournament, England reached the final of the UEFA Euro 2020 only to lose in a penalty shoot-out against Italy. It is important to note that this is the first time England has played in the final of Euro.

“This is the closest England has come in recent history. It would give the players hope and motivation having come so close at the Euro as they set their sights on the world cup. Looking at the current squad, we have a squad capable of being the top three favourites to go all the way at this tournament. I won’t say we are the favourites, but we do stand a good chance of winning. We usually play the world cup around June/July, which is hot and humid. The weather would be more favourable playing during a different period,” says the FIFA World Cup veteran.

To the fans: You are my family

Chelsea boasts a fanbase stretching to every corner of the world and are significant in numbers in the Maldives. Terry being the most decorated Chelsea captain, his fans are equally as many. He saw this first-hand during his visit to Thulusdhoo.

“I saw how passionate Maldivians are about football and the Premier League. No matter where you come from, football fans are one big family. We, as professional players did not come from much. Our parents were not well off either, says Terry, thanking everyone he has met during his visit to the Maldives.

Terry hopes to inspire the next generation of footballers. With plans to return to the Maldives, he reiterated the friendliness of the people and that he enjoys the Maldives.

Concluding the interview, Terry clarified if Maldives has played at a major international tournament such as the World Cup. “I like the weather here. If given the opportunity, I assure you that Maldives can reach major competitions.”

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