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The Italian says he has fond memories of his former skipper and the time he had at Stamford Bridge as he prepares to lead Paris Saint-Germain into the Champions League

By Chris Myson & Ashish Sharma

Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has defended under-fire Blues captain John Terry, describing the defender's qualities as "fantastic" both on and off the pitch.

The Paris Saint-Germain head coach was speaking exclusively to after another weekend of controversy for the man who was his captain at Stamford Bridge.

Anton Ferdinand refused to shake the hand of Terry at Loftus Road following the furore over the Chelsea man's alleged racial abuse of the defender, a case which ended up in court earlier this summer.

However, the Italian has been swift to back his former skipper: "As a personality, John Terry is one of the best players that I have met.

"He is a really strong character and has real quality. He gives everything for the club, not just for himself, and he was a fantastic captain for me too."

Ancelotti was sacked by Chelsea in the summer of 2012 as he failed to follow up the Premier League and FA Cup double in his debut season with any additional silverware the year after.

The Italian though, still has fond memories over his time at Stamford Bridge and English football retains a place in his heart.

Ancelotti added: "I don’t think that I had unfinished business at Chelsea, I had a fantastic experience.

"It was my first experience outside Italy, and I found a fantastic club, a fantastic atmosphere in the Premier League.
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"I had a very good moment, I don’t know if it was too short. I have a very good memory of the players, of the club, and also the atmosphere in England. English football is, at this moment, the best in Europe because the atmosphere is really exciting.

"There is no violence, people are happy to go to the stadium, the stadiums are very good. I had a good memory."

Ancelotti went on to explain why he was tempted to join PSG at the beginning of the year, saying he believes the French side can become a major player in the Champions League, a competition in which they play Dynamo Kiev in their opener on Tuesday night.

PSG were taken over by Qatari Investment Agency in the summer of 2011, and since then millions of Euros have been pumped into the side as the owners attempt to establish Les Parisiens as a top European force.

He said: "It was the project of the club, because it a club with an owner who wants to build a fantastic team, be the top team in Europe, so the project is very interesting.

"We are working to this, and I believe we have the opportunity to move quickly because we have a lot of possibility through investment, and also the owner is really motivated to build a strong team.

"The reason why I am here is that: the possibility to build a strong team and be competitive in Europe."

Over the course of the last three transfer periods, PSG have spent lavishly, attracting the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi to the Parc des Princes.

"I think everyone speaks about the money PSG gave to these players, but I think the most important thing is the project," he stated.

"Ibrahimovic earned the same money in Italy, as did Thiago Silva and Lavezzi, but here is a very special project and every player is involved."

The man spearheading the project is club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, whom Ancelotti spoke of in high terms, praising in particular his serenity and knowledge.

"He is very kind, he loves football – he has a lot of patience for football – and now obviously for PSG," the former Chelsea and AC Milan boss said. "He's really excited, really motivated, he's very young, so I have a really good relationship with him.

"They understood that to build a team is not so easy. It's not enough to buy very important players; we need to take time to build a team, because the most important thing in football is to build a team.

"When the results were not so good for us in the first three games of the championship they were calm, supportive, and it was good for me."

Al-Khelaifi has often spoken of the gradual steps that PSG must make in order to establish themselves along with the continent's top sides, and these words were echoed by Ancelotti, who insisted that the Champions League is not the target this season.

"The priority is to win the league, the championship in France, and after that to be competitive in the Champions League, but it is the first time after a long time that this club played in the Champions League," he considered.

"We don't know what's going to happen in that competition for us, because I think we have the possibility to do really well but the Champions League is a very particular competition. We have to play and step-by-step we can understand what we’re going to do this season.

"The first step is to move on from the group. The group is not easy because we face teams with a lot of experience, like Porto, Dynamo Kiev – they have played a lot of games in the Champions League. In this competition experience and tradition is very important."

Press speculation has linked the experienced Italian with some of his former players at Chelsea, including Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Terry, but without dousing the talk completely, Ancelotti would not be drawn on suggestions that one or more of the Englishmen could join him in France.

"Everything can happen in football, but these players have an important position in their club so it is difficult for them to leave as I think they are the most important players at Chelsea," he concluded.