ESPN FC: Tough tests for Chelsea?
Jose Mourinho has praised Chelsea captain John Terry for resurrecting his career after being beset by problems in recent years.
Terry, 32, had the England captaincy taken from him in 2010 following reports of an affair with the former partner of then-international colleague Wayne Bridge. In 2012, the court case over allegations that he racially abused QPR's Anton Ferdinand -- in which he was acquitted -- ultimately put paid to his international career.
Last season, Terry found himself a regular among the Chelsea substitutes, with interim manager Rafa Benitez preferring the partnership of David Luiz and Gary Cahill in central defence.
Mourinho, who returned to Stamford Bridge during the summer, revealed he had paid close attention to Terry's stuggles from afar while he was in charge of Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
"He's recovering his self-esteem," Mourinho told the The Guardian. "In the last few years, he was not playing a lot -- he had problems on the pitch, he had problems outside the pitch, he had suspensions for different reasons, he had injuries, he had managers who didn't trust him enough. And it looked like his career was going in the wrong direction.
"Even I was questioning, from far away, what was happening: physical problems, psychological problems, what is going on? I'm happy he's proving he's still a top player.
"He plays in a position where age doesn't make a huge difference. It's a position where players rely more on positioning, on reading the game and being in the right place at the right time. Experience helps.
"Look at how many top teams have experienced players at centre half -- Barcelona and Carles Puyol; Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand; Jamie Carragher at Liverpool was playing until last season and was important. You go to many clubs, top clubs, and central defenders are 30 to 34.
"John is proving his quality. With what he did at Chelsea in the last decade, I think he deserves to be back on track."
Mourinho also believes Frank Lampard can be a key player for the Blues, despite now being 35. The Portuguese coach backed the midfielder to transform his game and continue to play a role not dissimilar to Andrea Pirlo, who has enjoyed a renaissance for both Juventus and Italy despite also being in his mid-30s.
"Of course Frank can become that," Mourinho said. "He has to adapt and learn every day how to play with this new body. A player can still learn new skills at his age.
"I'm 50 and have been a manager since 2000 and I'm learning every day. You can always learn new skills, especially if the player has an open mind like he does. He's a player who can keep the side's balance, who thinks about the game and can work with kids around him.
"For him, it was very good I'm back because the trust is so big. He knows that every decision I make on him is for my team -- because that's most important -- but also for him. So if, one day, I bring him off at 70 minutes or leave him on the bench or give him a rest and don't select him, it's for his own good.
"He knows, without me speaking to him every day -- which I don't do with my players -- that I'm doing it for him. The trust and friendship is so big that he is happy. At this moment of his career, it was very important for him to have somebody like me around."