Antonio Conte was the man to phase John Terry out at Chelsea, but the Italian says he cannot thank the Blues legend enough for aiding his cause while calling the shots at Stamford Bridge.
An iconic defender was inherited in west London when Conte took the reins in 2016 and Terry’s status as ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ was well established by that point, with Chelsea’s club captain having taken in over 700 appearances and collected numerous major honours.
Another Premier League title was to be added to his collection in 2017, but his final campaign with the Blues delivered just 14 appearances across all competitions.
Conte was able to call upon alternative options at the heart of his defence, with Terry having to make peace with filling a support role.
He never argued against that, with his commitment to the collective cause shining through right to the very end.
Conte told Sky Sports: "It was a great privilege for me to be the coach of a Chelsea legend like John Terry.
"We are talking about a top man, a really good man and then a top player. He helped me a lot in my first season in and out of the pitch.
"He was very important in the training ground, during the sessions to keep the concentration standards high."
Terry’s final outing for Chelsea, his 717th, came in a meeting with Sunderland at Stamford Bridge and he was substituted in the 26th minute of that game, allowing him to be given a fitting send-off.
A switch to Aston Villa was made in the summer of 2017, with one season spent with the Villans before hanging up his boots, but Conte admits he will be forever grateful to the former England captain for helping him to get his message across at the Premier League heavyweights.
The current Inter boss added on bringing the curtain down on an iconic career at Chelsea: "He decided he wanted this because 26 was his squad number and for me it was a pleasure to give him this opportunity.
"I will never be able to thank him enough. He was very important for me and our team."