Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce, who once almost signed John Terry for £700,000, has claimed that the England central defender is now "unbuyable".
Bruce was manager of Huddersfield Town when he came close to tying up a deal with the then Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle - now the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers - for an 18-year-old Terry.
The move fell through with Huddersfield unable to raise the fee but Bruce has kept tabs on the player since and believes he can be a future England captain.
Bruce said: "I nearly bought John Terry when I was at Huddersfield.
"I agreed a fee with Glenn Hoddle of £700,000 and I couldn't do it in the finish because the funds weren't quite available - so I bought Chris Lucketti instead.
"I had been tracking Terry for a while. That happened when he was 18. Now what we see is a lad that maybe all the younger players should follow.
"He's had his troubles but he has grown up quickly and has become for me the most influential part of the Chelsea side because he leads by example.
"He has a huge presence, is a captain in his own right and I've got the utmost respect for the way he plays and handles himself.
"He's got all the credentials to be a future England captain because he is a bit like Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane.
"He has got that influence on people. He's 24 and he must have a chance of being a future England captain."
Bruce continued: "John Terry is a Tony Adams type - he is the one that pulls people altogether. Chelsea look as if they have got a great spirit and that is down to him."
The Birmingham boss added: "I would think Terry would be unbuyable now.
"The likes of John Terry come along very rarely - people who play week-in and week-out, are tough as they come and are top class.
"He is the real deal. If he has maybe got one flaw, he maybe lacks that one yard of pace but, with everything else in his game, he certainly makes up for it."
Meanwhile, Stan Lazaridis will be afforded little time to prepare for Blues' match at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after being told that he must remain in Australia at least until tomorrow.
The winger flew to Sydney on March 20 - straight after the match against Aston Villa - to play for Australia in a friendly against Iraq three days ago.
It was expected that Lazaridis would be able to return to England immediately but, instead, he will travel with his international team-mates to Perth for a charity match against Indonesia today.
The situation is far from ideal for Birmingham. Lazaridis has only just returned to full fitness after a spell out with a thigh injury and the jet-lag of a 24-hour flight is sure to inhibit his preparations for the match against Spurs.
His best hope is that he can return to England on Thursday night, rest on Friday, and make himself available on Saturday morning. But Steve Bruce will not be impressed - especially given that Lazaridis did not make the trip for any competitive matches.
Bruce has, in the past, lamented the amount of disruption caused to Birmingham by international call-ups.
Lazaridis played the first half of the match against Iraq at the site of the Olympic Stadium, which Australia won 2-1, before he was withdrawn as a precaution after suffering a minor hamstring injury in training the day before.
He is expected to play some part of the match at the Subiaco Ovalis against Indonesia, which has organised to raise money for the Boxing Day tsunami disaster.
The decision by Frank Farina, the Australia head coach, to keep his Europeanbased players in Australia for the trip to Perth has not gone down well in all quarters.
However, more than 10,000 tickets have been sold and Farina does not want to short-change the spectators by fielding a weaker team.