John Terry believes his Nottingham Forest loan stint was a key moment on his path to becoming Chelsea’s captain, leader, legend.
The former Blues skipper is the last academy product to rise through the ranks and truly cement a place in the club’s first-team squad.
Terry led the team to five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the Europa and Champions League during a glittering career.
But the 36-year-old knows only too well how tough it is for youngsters to break into the first-team and spent time on loan at Forest in the year 2000.
He played six games in the second tier, remaining undefeated along the way, to prove his credentials as a tough-tackling defender.
Terry reckons England’s new world champions, the U20s squad, should go down the same route if they want further success in senior football.
He told Yahoo Sport UK: “You look at all of that group and how many of them are going to be playing regular Premier League football next year?
“I’m not too sure there’ll be too many playing regularly and that’s the most important thing for me.
“Playing regularly is vital for them so if those opportunities aren’t going to come at their clubs then they need to back themselves, like Dele Alli did, and go out and get some game-time.
“Academy football and reserve football is a great stepping stone.
“I’m not a fan of the U23s football. I don’t think it serves a purpose and I don’t think it is testing enough for the young players. I know having been a young boy at one stage myself and going on loan to Nottingham Forest.
“I walked into a dressing room full of men and everything relied on that win on a Saturday. Mortgages are on the line. It’s a completely different mentality and it served me so well as a young player experiencing that.
“When you make a mistake in the reserves it doesn’t matter as much and as a young kid you need to be told sometimes and to learn from mistakes.
It is experienced men who have been around the block who can help these young players on their journey.”
John Terry for Chelsea:
19 PL seasons
492 PL games
41 PL goals
5 PL titles pic.twitter.com/mXE67sjZ1m
— Chelsea News App (@CFCNewsApp) May 26, 2017
Terry was speaking at Burhill Golf Club for the Asmir Begovic Foundation’s charity golf day.
The foundation helps to build recreational areas for children to play in both here in the UK and in the goalkeeper’s home country of Bosnia & Herzegovina.