NATHAN AKE has revealed that John Terry has been preparing for years to become a top manager.
Dutch centre-half Ake became the latest Chelsea Academy graduate to leave after completing a £20million move to Bournemouth last week.
Terry, 36, signed for Aston Villa after 22 years spent at Stamford Bridge.
It is understood his new boss Steve Bruce will offer him a path into coaching at Villa Park.
Ake, 22, said: “JT will make a really good coach.
“He was already writing down notes of training sessions and everything just to be a manager, so he was always looking.
“I think he will be good because of the way he interacts with people, the way he likes to help young players.
“He’d always come over to the young players and speak straight away to us, saying, ‘Don’t be nervous, just play your own game’.”
Ake did not hear from Blues chief Antonio Conte during his loan stint at Bournemouth last season — nor did he have any interaction with ex-gaffer Jose Mourinho while he was farmed out to Reading and Watford.
But Ake added: “JT was always in contact. Even when I was out on loan he was sending me text messages saying either, ‘Well played’, or ‘Keep going’, things like this.
“So he is always, even when you’re away, involved with you.
“After games when I scored a goal or had done well he’d text me — ‘Well done’, ‘Congratulations’, things like this.
“It was like he was still connected with you and that was really good.”
Terry played a bit-part role in Chelsea’s march to the Premier League title under Conte last season . . . but he had the presence of a manager, says Ake.
He said: “JT was great in and around the place. He could be thinking, ‘Ah, I should be starting, I’m going to moan’, but he wasn’t like that.
“John was always there, even when he was injured he would travel and be in the changing room doing speeches.
“Or he’d be making everyone lively before games, just making sure people realised how important the games were. He was always involved.”
Ake received a call from JT to congratulate him on joining Bournemouth, and he added: “We’ve spoken in the last few days and he’ll continue to always be an influence on my career as we’ll always remain in contact.”
Asked if he was surprised that Chelsea allowed him to leave, given that he had such a presence at the club, Ake said: “It’s difficult to say, he’s a really big character in the changing rooms, he is Chelsea basically, so you want to see him at Chelsea for as long as possible.
“JT’s shoes are big ones to fill. He’s a big player and a big character.”
The Dutch defender was at the Blues for six years and rated Rafa Benitez as the best manager he worked under.
He said: “Rafa really did a lot for me at the time, he helped me break through and also Boudewijn Zenden — he was then assistant and he was Dutch, so I had a really good contact with him and they really helped me.
“It was quite new to me because I was only 17 years old. So those moments were really important to my career and in my development as a professional player.
“Benitez talked to me in training, he always prepared me for games coming up and made me feel like part of the team.
“He didn’t make me feel scared or nervous before matches, he’d just tell me to play my normal game and Zenden said it to me as well. They talked a lot.”
Ake was omitted from the FA Cup final team against Arsenal despite the fact he played in most of their matches in the competition.
That pretty much summed up his time at Chelsea – making just two starts in the Premier League during his time there.
But he said: “It wasn’t just one game that decided it, the whole five months back there last year.
“I felt at the end of the season that I just needed regular seasons now, maybe just two seasons playing regularly and I think I needed it at this stage of my career rather than going on loan and coming back, going on loan and coming back. I needed the stability.
“This is the perfect club for me now in this moment. The club is really growing itself, the players are growing, and I feel like this is the right project for me to go in and improve myself.”