Dressed in his training gear, John Terry walks towards Aston Villa’s struggling centre-forward, Wesley, shares a joke with the Brazilian and finishes with a chest bump.
He plays volley-tennis with another player and, having prepared the pre-match warm-up, observes the starting XI fitness drills ahead of last Monday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Villa Park.
The former Chelsea captain is assistant head coach to Dean Smith, having signed a new contract until 2021 last summer, but he still feels at home among the players. Another laugh and a joke – this time with Villa’s star man, Jack Grealish – and Terry heads back to the dressing rooms, greeting an old Chelsea team-mate, Newcastle winger Christian Atsu, with a hug and a high-five as he departs.
John Terry is part of the Aston Villa furniture and is helping to lift up the dressing room
Before some games, Terry temporarily reprises the role of tub-thumping skipper that he performed so effectively during more than 20 years at Stamford Bridge. Prior to Villa’s home game with Liverpool on November 3, Terry gathered the starting players in a huddle and delivered a loud, up-and-at-‘em speech.
Villa followed it up with one of their best halves of the season, opening the scoring against Jurgen Klopp’s team and holding their lead until the dying minutes, when goals from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane gave the league leaders a 2-1 win.
At Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground, Terry’s character and insight are valued. It is no coincidence that Tyrone Mings has improved sharply since joining Villa on an initial loan deal last term, and is now in the England squad.
Dean Smith is the driver at Aston Villa, but Terry could soon bid for control in another dugout
The former Chelsea captain has been key in Tyrone Mings' form amid recent England call-ups
This week is different for Terry, though. On Wednesday, Villa travel to Stamford Bridge, where two of Terry’s