Chelsea legend John Obi Mikel has told talkSPORT how John Terry helped end Rafael Benitez’s reign at the club.
The former Blues midfielder, who spent 11 years with the west London club between 2006 and 2017, was one of the stars associated with that era of success at Stamford Bridge.
Winning two Premier Leagues, the Champions League, a Europa League, four FA Cups and two League Cups, Mikel played in a star-studded team alongside fellow club legends Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
But among all their achievements, it was not always smooth-sailing behind closed doors at the Bridge, with Benitez’s arrival as interim manager in 2012 causing trouble at Cobham.
Many believe Chelsea’s biggest stars had the power to push a manager out of the job. Now, Mikel has lifted the lid on the squad’s relationship with unpopular manager Benitez.
When asked on talkSPORT’s White and Jordan show whether the Chelsea players were ‘not having the Spaniard’, Mikel smiled: “No, we were not.
“We made that clear. I think obviously Liverpool was a big rival for us, but coming into the club as well, I think the fans also didn’t like Rafa.
“I think there was something about Rafa and the fans that the fans didn’t take to him. Same as the players, we didn’t accept him as one of us.”
But it turns out one player in particular helped stop Benitez from staying beyond his contract – former Chelsea captain Terry.
Mikel continued: “Then we had the thing with JT where JT got dropped, JT wasn’t playing as much as he wanted. Obviously JT always played and Rafa comes in and was like ‘you’re not going to play every game’.
“Obviously JT wanted an explanation, ‘why am I not played?’ and Rafa didn’t give him that.”
Co-host Jim White then asked if the Blues players then got together to solve Terry’s dilemma and conspire to get Benitez out – and Mikel’s answer ended up leaving those in the studio in stitches.
“JT got together by himself and decided yeah, your time is gone!” he replied, with White, Jordan and Murphy bursting out laughing as a result.
Benitez had arrived as interim manager in November 2012 following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo.
He secured a third place finish in the Premier League, achieving Champions League qualification, and won the Europa League – but his position was not made permanent.
Mikel revealed it was Terry who had the biggest say at Stamford Bridge and why his fall out with Benitez always spelt trouble for the Spaniard.
“I think, obviously, one man that actually absolutely did run it was John Terry,” he continued. “JT was the man. In a good way. On the pitch, JT was the man.
“Sometimes, when the dressing room was not together, he was the guy that always brought us together. On the pitch, off the pitch, he was the leader.
“Like you’ve just said, there’s too many players there with big egos. The likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Peter Cech, Ashley Cole. You know, everyone has their opinion.
“But at the end of the day, JT was the guy who made the decisions.”
He added: “We had the power. I think JT, Frank, Didier – Didier was very opinionated, had a lot of voice in the dressing room – Petr Cech, these guys were the ones who run the dressing room.
“When they feel like ‘ok, this manager is not giving the players what we want, we’re not playing as much as we want, or not enjoying ourselves in the way we want, we’ll come together and figure out a way of getting someone in that we want.”