‘Exceptional leader’ Terry has last laugh

JOHN TERRY insisted his armband goal celebration was aimed at baying Stoke fans and not England boss Fabio Capello as Chelsea eased into the last four of the FA Cup.

Terry endured boos and abuse from visiting supporters all afternoon in response to the newspaper allegations about his private life, which eventually led to Capello stripping him of the England captaincy.

But the Chelsea skipper had the last laugh on his mockers, bringing an end to his recent slump in form by heading home Frank Lampard’s corner before then running over to the corner flag in front of his own fans, pointing to his captain’s armband.

“The armband means a lot, of course,” Terry said. “Chelsea have been very supportive, the players as well, but we wanted to show the fans how much it meant to us.

“We had a couple of days to work on their set plays but they can play as well. On a dodgy pitch I thought we played well and bounced back from last week.”

Assistant boss Ray Wilkins backed Terry’s actions and hailed his “exceptional” skipper. “He was taking a bit too much stick from the Stoke fans and wanted to demonstrate that,” Wilkins added. “He’s an exceptional captain and we’re delighted to have him on board. He leads these players on the pitch in fantastic fashion and scored a great second goal.

“[The barracking] is happening and John’s just getting on with the situation,” he added. “I’m not too happy about it, but there’s nothing I can do. He’s dealing with the situation in the only way he can – committing himself to the cause.”

Terry’s powerfully headed effort on 67 minutes all but killed off the challenge of Stoke, who barely threatened throughout, except for when John Obi Mikel was forced to head Dean Whitehead’s effort off the line.

But the Potters were always chasing after Lampard put the Blues in front on 35 minutes – rifling home from the edge of the box, set up by Terry’s lay-off.