John Terry— Captain, Leader, Legend.
That’s what one of the permanent banners at Stamford Bridge says. But after making the decision to retire from international football, one is more than likely to question whether he really is what the banner says he is.
Terry’s frustration comes from the fact that the FA want to carry out an independent hearing despite a magistrate’s court clearing him of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Whether he called Rio Ferdinand’s brother a “F****** bl*** c***” is still debatable, but the truth is that his antics have brought unnecessary attention to the FA. And that, they hate.
The timing of his announcement— on the eve of the FA hearing makes the decision less credible.
Let us get one thing clear– Terry is a Chelsea legend and there is no doubting that. A thoroughbred from the club, Terry has been through every success and failure at the Bridge, and has done it while leading from the front.
But he has never been judged being good enough for England, and this can be attributed to various off-the-field controversies during his national captaincy. Terry was consistent on the pitch for England, something other club-stars have failed to do, but a captain is continuously scrutinised for everything he does.
Since Euro 2004, Terry has enjoyed the status of being first-choice centre-back and made some vital contributions during World Cup 2006. He was also only English player to be named in the tournament’s all-star squad. He then won the race against Steven Gerrard and was named England captain the same year.
Failure to qualify for Euro 2008 was followed by Fabio Capello’s appointment and Terry continued as skipper. After allegations of an affair with club and country teammate Wayne Bridge’s partner Vanessa Perroncel were uncovered, Terry was stripped of the captaincy ahead of World Cup 2010.
South Africa was a complete disaster. After the drab displays, he told a press conference: “The players can say how they feel and, if it upsets him (Capello), then I’m on the verge of just saying: ‘You know what? So what?’”
His comments also gave a hint that players were bored with the set-up, and Capello was being too uptight. This didn’t go down well with the Italian. He responded by saying the Chelsea player had “made a big mistake”, but reinstated him as skipper of the national side in early 2011 after Ferdinand was sidelined for a long time.
Not everyone gets a second chance but Terry was back on the front page, this time after he allegedly made a racist remark to Anton Ferdinand. The FA was done this time, they were having none of it and not surprisingly, Terry was stripped of captaincy for a second time. Ironically, Capello resigned over this FA decision and Roy Hodgson was appointed manager.
Even though Hodgson has picked Terry for games, Gerrard has skippered the side. And the FA (who apparently have a brilliant rate of conviction) will hold their separate inquiry into the allegations against Terry.
When news broke of his “heart-breaking” decision to retire from football, there were hardly any murmurs of sympathy from his contemporaries or ex-footballers. But did Terry really expect that?
The hearing is highly anticipated, and if the FA would have found him guilty, then Terry’s career would have been over in a puff of disgrace. Terry has certainly shielded himself from that with his resignation. He is anxious and afraid that his international retirement will be forced by an independent FA panel, who decide on the ‘balance of probabilities’.
Terry has been a fantastic performer for England and will be missed on the pitch. But he forever flirts with being caught up in controversy. That probably will be the legacy he leaves as an England national. And sadly enough, at the end of the day, he will have no one to blame for it but himself.