LONDON, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Chelsea captain John Terry is far from finished and playing as well as ever after 600 matches for his club, manager Jose Mourinho said on Sunday.
The 33-year-old former England skipper, whose form was said to be in decline last season, turned out for Chelsea for the 600th time in their 2-1 home victory over Liverpool in the Premier League.
The win lifted Chelsea into third place, two points behind leaders Arsenal and pushed Liverpool down to fifth, four points further back.
"More important than the accumulation of the 600 matches is that he played every minute of the 19 matches in the Premier League this season amazing for a player who last season lots of people said was going down," Mourinho told reporters.
"He is showing fantastic quality. The players I had in the past I have a special connection with them but . he's not playing because he's my friend but he's getting these minutes on the pitch because he's playing exceptionally well."
Mourinho said Terry had contributed to a big win in a tight championship race in which the demands on players were clearly illustrated by the fact Chelsea lost Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic to injury during the game.
"Big respect to every player in this country. The accumulation of matches is amazing and happens what happens to Ivanovic, to Lampard, to (Liverpool's Mamadou) Sakho, to (Joe) Allen," he added, referring to the busy traditional Christmas and New year programme in the Premier League.
"They have to give what they have and have to give what they don't have.
"From the first minute to the last minute the result was in doubt with everyone giving 100 percent. It was a game of big emotion, a hard game and a big game.
"If we don't win the game, the distance to the leaders is difficult. The accumulation of matches, the injuries, Ramires not playing, plus (John Obi) Mikel with the flu, altogether makes me very happy with the game." (Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Ed Osmond)