John Terry came very close to joining Liverpool in 2003

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John Terry of Chelsea speaks to the crowd after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England
Photo: Michael Regan/GETTY IMAGES

Former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson has revealed that John Terry had a verbal agreement with the late Gérard Houllier over a transfer to Anfield.

Terry, who is now assistant manager to Dean Smith at Aston Villa, has legendary status at Chelsea, where he spend the vast majority of his playing career.

However, the former England skipper was very close to leaving Stamford Bridge in the early 2000s when Chelsea were in financial turmoil.

Terry was one of the most promising youngsters at the London outfit, but club hierarchy were reluctant to offer him a new deal due to their dire financial situation at the time.

And with his contract set to expire at the end of the 2002/03 season, Houllier hatched a plan to pinch Terry from their rivals.

Speaking to Paddy Power's From The Horse's Mouth podcast, Thompson said:

In the final game of the 2002/03 season it was like a play-off to get in the Champions League when we played Chelsea away.

They beat us down at Stamford Bridge just before Roman Abramovich came to town, but we'd heard Chelsea were in dire straits financially. They weren't going to offer Frank Lampard a contract, or John Terry.

After the game Gérard Houllier said to me, "He's (Terry) a bit of a player, isn't he?" and I replied "he's a great player John Terry. He's not the quickest, but he reads the game fantastically well."

I also told Gérard that I didn't believe Chelsea had offered him a contract yet. So, as the Chelsea players were walking around the pitch for the traditional lap of honour, Gérard went to shake John's hand and asked him, "how would you like to play for Liverpool?"

Terry replied, "I'd love to Mr Houllier. I'd love to." Gérard told him he'd be in touch and we went into the dressing room. While we were in there and he told me what had happened, I said, "Gerard, we've got to get his agent's number and do this quick."

So we sent one of our coaches to the players' lounge to see John and said to him, "I believe you had a word with Gérard Houllier, can we have your agent's name and phone number please?" Terry said he'd do better than that and handled him his personal phone number.

A couple of weeks later that summer (Roman) Abramovich took over Chelsea and his first dealings were to sign up John Terry and Frank Lampard on big contracts. We were so close to getting him though.

Terry went on to enjoy a hugely successful career with Chelsea, winning 15 major trophies in almost 20 years in the first-team.

He left Chelsea in 2017, spending one season with Villa, before retiring and becoming the Midlands club's assistant manager.

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