sport news JAMIE REDKNAPP: Gary Cahill opens up on Mauricio Sarri, his Chelsea 'whirlwind' ...

The defender who earns his living by not giving opponents an inch is contemplating the fact he now has to steer two metres clear for the foreseeable future.

'You should never, ever take it for granted,' Gary Cahill tells Sportsmail's Jamie Redknapp. 'We're in this entertainment business. We're blessed to do what we do.

'We are lucky. Very lucky. When you see people working for the NHS, ultimately saving lives, you look at yourself and think, "Wait a minute…" It humbles you.'

Cahill and Redknapp would normally cross paths on the morning school run, but here they meet for a virtual catch-up to talk coronavirus, Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

With a few clicks and a fiddle with the settings, we are ready to go on video app Zoom, with reporter Kieran Gill logging in, too.

Gary Cahill is getting a taste for retired life with the coronavirus putting football on hold

Gary Cahill is getting a taste for retired life with the coronavirus putting football on hold 

Cahill has impressed in his first season at Crystal Palace after leaving Chelsea in the summer

Cahill has impressed in his first season at Crystal Palace after leaving Chelsea in the summer

It's 10am on Wednesday and without a weekend match to work towards, Cahill feels lost. Today marks 14 years since his Premier League debut, for Aston Villa against Arsenal in 2006. But there is no cause for celebration. It could be months before a ball is kicked in the top flight again.

JR: Welcome to what retirement feels like after you finish playing, Gary.

GC: Mate, it's hard work. I'm double active. I get up and I'm looking for things to do. I don't think I've ever jet-washed my house so much. The house is gleaming! 

The first few days, you put your feet up, you relax. Then you realise how much you miss it – the training, the competition.

JR: If all of this had happened when I was playing, I reckon a few might have forgotten to train and come back four stone overweight!

GC: That'll be one of the first meetings we have! We've been given programmes. But we'll be having the skin-folds and body fat people in as soon as we're back.

JR: I've been retired for 15 years. You might think I'm mad here but there is not one night where I don't dream about football. I hope this makes players realise how fortunate they are.

Cahill has had to settle into his personalised training plan plotted by his Palace coaches

GC: One hundred per cent. It's phenomenal what the NHS are doing. They're the ones doing all the hard work and we have to support them. You just do what you're told. This has put everything on pause and now everyone has time to reflect. 

People always ask me, 'How long are you going to play for?' This, more than anything, has made me realise you want to play as long as you possibly can. As long as I'm fit and I'm healthy, I will play.

JR: Speaking of fitness, we all want to finish the season, but players aren't robots. There is a reason why we do pre-seasons – to get players prepared and avoid injuries.

GC: Clubs will think the players need a two or three-week pre-season. Look at the injuries which you could pick up if you just jump straight back into competitive games. There will certainly have to be a mini pre-season before it all gets back up and running.

JR: But do you think we will see the season out? This is all unchartered territory, and nobody knows what's going to happen or when it will be safe to play again.

GC: Exactly that. There's no light at the end of the tunnel. The most important thing is everybody's health – that's first and foremost. But then everyone is waiting. They will try everything in their power to finish the season. 

As players, we've just got to do as told. The training ground is closed, and that's updated week by week. It's strange because you're trying to maintain yourself for… when? You're ticking over but you don't know when it will ever change. 

Palace's defence has been rock solid this season, conceding just 32 goals, less than Chelsea

Palace's defence has been rock solid this season, conceding just 32 goals, less than Chelsea

Cahill became a Chelsea great, but it could have been very different. He appeared twice against Harry Redknapp's Tottenham in 2010-11 – a 4-2 win at the Reebok Stadium, then a 2-1 loss at White Hart Lane. 

That left the Bolton defender on the Spurs manager's radar, but Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas won the race in January 2012. Two months later, Villas-Boas was sacked, but Cahill went on to mark his first season by winning the Champions League regardless. 

One of the training pitches at Palace's Beckenham training ground now is named 'Nou Camp' – a reminder of that semi-final second leg in Barcelona.

JR: I went to one of those games against Tottenham and I remember my dad saying afterwards: 'I've got to sign him, he's different class.' Then you went to Chelsea! How much did they pay for you in the end? About eight, eight-and-a-half million?

Cahill left Chelsea in the summer as a legend after winning all there is to win in England

Cahill left Chelsea in the summer as a legend after winning all there is to win in England 

GC: Seven!

JR: I know for a fact one of my dad's big regrets is missing out on you.

GC: I remember having a conversation with your dad about going there, but it never materialised.

JR: With Chelsea, you won the Premier League twice, FA Cup twice, League Cup – I'm reading this off a list, by the way, so don't go thinking, 'He knows his stuff!' – Champions League, and Europa League twice. That made me jealous reading all of that out.

GC: It was a whirlwind. When someone like Chelsea comes in for you, you just go. You're never quite sure to what degree is it a managerial or club decision. But I wasn't too interested in that. I just wanted to be at a top club and grab hold of my chance.

JR:

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