Jose Mourinho feared John Terry's career was on the way down, but the Chelsea manager believes his star defender is now back to his best after a loss of "self-esteem".
Terry has been a more prominent figure in Mourinho's Chelsea line-up this season after a number of troubled seasons that culminated in the former England international struggling to hold his place in the team when Rafael Benitez was in charge last season.
The centre back has been revived following Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge for a second spell as manager and will captain the Blues tonight for the visit of a Cardiff side anxious to focus their efforts on the pitch following a week of off-field upheaval.
And Mourinho is confident Terry, 32, has moved on from the succession of problems on and off the pitch that included the loss of the England captaincy and the FA ban for directing racial abuse at QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
"He's recovering his self-esteem," Mourinho said.
"In the last few years, he was not playing a lot. He had problems on and outside the pitch, he had suspensions for different reasons, he had injuries, he had managers who didn't trust him enough. And it looked like, his career was going in the wrong direction.
"Even I was questioning, from far away, what was happening to this guy? I'm happy he's proving he's still a top player.
"He plays in a position where age doesn't make a huge difference. It's a position where players rely more on positioning, on reading the game and being in the right place at the right time. Experience helps.
"You go to many top clubs and central defenders are 30 to 34. John is proving his quality.
"With what he did at Chelsea in the last decade, I think he deserves to be back on track."
Getting back on track in their hunt for EPL trophies is something Chelsea will be looking to do, although goalkeeper Petr Cech believes the Blues can challenge on all fronts this season.
"We haven't won the EPL title for three years in a row, so I think it would be great to get that back," he said.
"We know how sweet it is to win the European Cup too, so if we could go far in that and really challenge for the title, then that would be great."
Cardiff have had a testing week marked by the decision of owner Vincent Tan to replace Iain Moody, the head of recruitment and a close ally of manager Malky Mackay, with the 23-year-old Alisher Apsalyamov.
After several days of speculation surrounding Mackay's future, a club statement confirmed the manager would retain the final say in transfer business.
But the friction has tarnished the start of the promoted club's campaign and Mackay will undoubtedly work hard to ensure his players' focus remains on the pitch.