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Chelsea legends John Terry and Frank Lampard could have been reunited at the start of the season

In September, when John Terry had not yet hung his boots, a reunion with Frank Lampard in Derby was brought up. “I’d take John Terry all day every day,” Lampard said.

Eight months later, Lampard takes on Terry in a match of huge significance. The two close friends, Chelsea teammates for 13 years of triumph and tumult, will face the dugouts at Wembley for the Championship play-off final on May 27.

Terry is Dean Smith’s assistant, of course, and Aston Villa’s manager is in the spotlight, who is on his own emotional journey. But it’s impossible to ignore the delightful conflict between a couple who won so much together as players, now each in their first coaching campaigns.

Derby boss Frank Lampard led his squad to the playoff final after a brilliant victory over Leeds

Derby boss Frank Lampard led his squad to the playoff final after a brilliant victory over Leeds

John Terry takes on Lampard at Wembley after Aston defeated Villa West Brom

John Terry takes on Lampard at Wembley after Aston defeated Villa West Brom

John Terry takes on Lampard at Wembley after Aston defeated Villa West Brom

FINAL PLAYBACK

Date – May 27 (Monday)

Time – 3:00 pm

Event location – Wembley

Channel – Sky Sports

Last summer, Lampard was unable to make a deal for Terry because Derby had to cut the wages bill. A few weeks later, Terry quit playing and took the position of assisting Smith alongside his longtime colleague Richard O’Kelly.

Villa Chief Executive Christian Purslow knew three-year Terry as head of Chelsea’s global commercial business and introduced his involvement to Smith, who was selected as the outstanding candidate to succeed Steve Bruce after a five-candidate interview.

Smith had run into Terry while leading Brentford and Walsall, and also coached Terry’s brother Paul with Leyton Orient. An hour of FaceTime chat to freshen up their relationship confirmed that joining Villa should work. “We decided it was right,” said Smith. “If it wasn’t, we both could have said no. But I felt it was a win-win. It was my decision. ‘

Terry arrived at 7:30 a.m. on his first day, armed with his pencil case ready to take notes. He has shelves full of coaching details at his home in Surrey after studying Jose Mourinho and others, and continues to record manager information with more than 400 games in the Football League.

“This is now his apprenticeship in coaching, he will get the hours in it,” said Smith. “I’m quite flattered that he chose to work with us.” Learning has gone both ways, with Terry’s elite level playing experience and Premier League contacts have proven valuable.

Lampard and Terry became good friends during their playing days at Chelsea

Lampard and Terry became good friends during their playing days at Chelsea

Lampard and Terry became good friends during their playing days at Chelsea

The pair together won three Premier League titles and a Champions League at Chelsea

The pair together won three Premier League titles and a Champions League at Chelsea

The pair together won three Premier League titles and a Champions League at Chelsea

His early start continues, with daily commutes to Birmingham, keeping himself in great shape and posting his healthy breakfast on Instagram. Sometimes it’s avocado, whole wheat toast (no butter), and bacon (fat cut). Others it is a protein shake of spinach, coconut milk banana and oats. He runs regularly for runs of 5 km and above.

At Bodymoor Heath that fitness helps. He participated in five-on-one games and occasionally gives one-on-one coaching with defenders and attackers. He posted a clip of a cool exercise with Tyrone Mings online.

“If you ask all the defenders, they’ll say they’ve benefited from JT on the coaching staff,” Smith said last week. “He gives a little technical, tactical and psychological advice. Lots of details. ‘

Terry has respected Smith’s authority and is generally reserved, just like last season when he tried to stay out of the spotlight by not taking any captain’s program notes.

However, he can come to life on the sidelines, as seen at the City Ground in March, when he got into an argument with Roy Keane. Lampard had his own meeting with Keane in February, with the old hostilities clearly dying hard.

Jack Marriott celebrates after Derby's decisive goal against Leeds on Elland Road

Jack Marriott celebrates after Derby's decisive goal against Leeds on Elland Road

Jack Marriott celebrates after Derby’s decisive goal against Leeds on Elland Road

Lampard, of course, was much more visible than Terry, a result of being the manager and giving weekly media briefings. Always a good talker as a player, he has impressively landed in a high profile role, never shied away from a subject and offers genuine opinions on every question. He will go fast from time to time, but never for effect. He is gracious but in control.

That’s how Lampard started at Pride Park, aware of the need to cut budget and sales before he could buy. Mayej Vydra was the obvious sale and eventually went to Burnley for £ 11 million so that Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn could come in. They were Lampard picks, and he treated the agents personally. Both have proved successful.

His confidence in Jayden Bogle has been rewarded and Derby has once again become a major asset to the 18-year-old right back, while Lampard has been instrumental in lending Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea and Harry Wilson from Liverpool. Those Premier League clubs want their players to be aware of a certain style and Lampard remains committed to a progressive approach. After being disappointed in the first game against Leeds, he wanted courage on the ball on Elland Road and he got that in spades.

Lampard also encourages honest speaking among his players and there was a frank debriefing after the 4-0 defeat to Villa in March that threatened to derail the campaign. Derby lost only one of their last 12 games.

Tammy Abraham scored the decisive spot kick when Villa West Brom won on penalties

Tammy Abraham scored the decisive spot kick when Villa West Brom won on penalties

Tammy Abraham scored the decisive spot kick when Villa West Brom won on penalties

There have also been strong discussions with owner Mel Morris, especially in January, when Lampard felt money was needed for new faces. In the end, Morris provided the money to bring in Ashley Cole, another Chelsea oldboy.

Assistant Jody Morris is a crucial figure, another close friend of Terry. Morris often offers the light relief, but also demanding standards. “He was my under 16 Chelsea coach to the youth team, he can keep me on my toes when I drop below the levels where he saw me play,” Tomori recently told Sportsmail.

The Chelsea trio have been reunited twice this season, with Villa both winning 7-0 overall. Prior to the first meeting, Lampard said, “You don’t have to cut ties as friends just because you work for different clubs. We are tight. But we’re not comparing notes this week. ‘

Wembley presents a real sliding door scenario, with a lot of change ahead for anyone who misses Derby and Villa. As for Lampard and Terry, after winning 11 major trophies together at Chelsea and 184 combined hats for England, it will be fascinating to see who comes first.

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