John Terry's wife gives her first ever interview to say how proud she is of the England star
Exclusive By Sharon Van Geuns
For 11 years she has relished her role as the loyal wife, silently supporting her football star husband John Terry from the sidelines.
But as the England skipper prepares to lead the country to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year following their 5-1 win against Croatia on Wednesday, Toni Terry is emerging from the shadows to make her own bid for sporting success.
After just a year of intense training with her horse, Diamond Fritz, she will perform in a dressage class - a form of horse ballet discipline - in front of 90,000 people at the London International Horse Show at Olympia, which will be watched by millions on BBC TV.
She intends to put in the performance of her life. "I'm scared witless," Toni admitted in her first ever newspaper interview. "There are people who have been doing dressage all their lives - sweat, blood and tears. I don't just want to come in and have an easy path. I want to work hard and deserve it."
Although Toni counts Abbey Clancy and Elen Rives among her friends, she is far from a typical designer-clad WAG.
In fact she is most often found in her riding gear nowadays.
What began as a hobby to keep herself occupied while her three-year-old twins Georgie and Summer were at nursery has fast become a passion. After finding she has a talent as a horsewoman, Toni now wants to make a career as a rider.
She's brought in former Olympic team dressage rider and 13-times national champion Vicki Thompson to help her train, and owns three horses. One of them is called Del Boy, after the Only Fools and Horses star, and another, a Hanoverian stallion called Beltoni, has represented Britain in the world games.
Of course, Toni has no need to work, but she says: "I've always worked and I feel strongly about having my own career. That only ended when I fell pregnant. I've tried to avoid the spotlight. I am exceptionally proud of John - what he has achieved since he was 17 is amazing.
"But now the children are more grown up I can exert myself a bit. Before I felt I was John's wife and a mum first and foremost. Now I think I have something to say - especially about the equestrian world. My aim is to get to the top levels of dressage. I don't just want to be known as John's wife but also as a working mum."
Toni's blonde locks have gone and she's now a brunette."I wanted a change," says Toni. "I had been thinking about it for so long then one day I woke up and thought, right, let go for it. It's my natural colour. I'm really happy with it. I am conscious of how I look. I want to look good for my husband but also for myself."
When the couple first met she was a teenage beautician working all hours at a local salon to help support footballer boyfriend John, who was then earning just £46 a week on a Youth Training Scheme.
John, also 28, is now one of the highest paid players in Britain - on £165,000 a week. But Toni insists the couple and their two children, who live in a beautiful house in Surrey, remain a normal family.
"John earns an amazing amount of money," says Toni, "But I want our kids to understand that it doesn't all come on a plate and that they're very lucky. I want them to have manners and be respectful. We both grew up in Essex with parents who worked their hardest to provide for us. I remember me and my sister had to sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. John and I know the value of money and a good education.
"I'll sit at home and surf the internet. I love finding a bargain, but I'll look at the price tag and if something is too expensive I won't buy it."
Toni's favourite place is at home with the family. "I like to curl up on the couch with John and treat myself to a bar of Dairy Milk," she says. John - who last year won a Father of the Year Award - relishes his role as a dad. "John is a softie, and loves spending time with the kids," Toni says. "When the children were little it was hard work. But John was brilliant with them. He's a great hands-on dad.
"John's a big personality, a real fun person to be around. When he's not here the house seems very quiet."
The other night, the family spent the night camping in the garden. "It was great fun," laughs Toni. We do things like that because I want life to be normal for the kids."
As the World Cup draws near and Toni's career takes off, there are busy times ahead. But John and Toni are ready. She says: "We are together on this. We are a team. We will deal with whatever is thrown at us - as a couple and a family."
Toni has donated her fee for this interview to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
I love this woman. She pretty much supported JT when he was just starting out, and I think she's incredibly smart and well-spoken. Not to mention she looks sooooo much better as a brunette!