I led Chelsea mutiny as new manager failed instantly - but player power is a myth

John Terry with then-Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas
John Terry with then-Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas -Credit:Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

John Terry has shared a remarkable tale from his Chelsea days, leading a player revolt over being seated in economy class during a pre-season tour. The incident occurred under the brief tenure of Andre Villas-Boas, who had taken the reins at Stamford Bridge intending to stamp his authority on a squad of established stars.

The Blues were set to jet off to Hong Kong, and Villas-Boas, keen to shake things up, decided to place his senior players, including Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, and Didier Drogba, in economy - while Chelsea's emerging talents enjoyed the comforts of first class.

Speaking on Simon Jordan's Up Front podcast with William Hill, Terry recounted the episode: "When Andre Villas-Boas first came in we were going to Hong Kong for a pre-season tour. We got on the plane and I had been put in economy, but young players like Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah were in first class."

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Terry explained that Villas-Boas was trying to assert his dominance. However, the rule did not sit well with Terry and other club legends.

"It was part of Villas-Boas trying to hammer home that no player was bigger than him," Terry said, reports the Daily Star. "I got on the plane and insisted that we weren't going anywhere until the young players were back in economy and the first team players, that had built the club to where it was, went into first class.

"Then Villas-Boas got on and asked what was happening so I told him that we weren't going anywhere until the young players were moved. To be fair to the young players, they were happy to move back, but I made sure that it wasn't their decision. It had to come from the manager.

"We ended up swapping and all the first team players were moved forward with the younger players back and that is how it should be. They're striving to be where we had earned the right to be."

Speaking about his defiant stance, Terry added: "He tried to make a statement on day one and failed instantly. That plane was going nowhere, and if it did, it would've been without myself, Lampard and Drogba."

Villas-Boas took charge of the Blues in 2011 after leading Porto to a treble in the previous season. The Portuguese coach had worked under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge but his reign would only last until March 2012. There were suggestions at the time that player power within the Chelsea squad, combined with Villas-Boas' relative inexperience, led to the manager being sacked but Terry has denied that was the case.

"There are all these rumours that player power at Chelsea was too big in my time there, it wasn't," he insisted. "The manager, Jose Mourinho for example, was in charge and anything above that, Roman Abramovich was in charge of. The dressing room was the responsibility of players like myself, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, but the structure above that was very clear."