John Terry Retires from International Game, Leaves Mixed Legacy (Poll)

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterSeptember 24, 2012

John Terry has played his last match for England. So what do we make of his international career?

Terry, a 31-year-old central defender, announced his international retirement Sunday (BBC Sport), ending an England career that lasted nearly a decade and included 78 appearances. Whether coincidental or not, the announcement came one day before Terry was scheduled for a Football Association hearing over the infamous Anton Ferdinand incident.

Terry, who plays for Chelsea at the club level, had a controversial career with England, having been twice stripped of the captaincy.

He first served as England captain from 2006, following David Beckham, until 2010. He lost the armband after allegations that Terry, who is married, had an affair with an England teammate's ex-girlfriend (The Guardian).

Fabio Capello re-appointed Terry as England captain in March 2011, but the FA took away the armband in February 2012 without Capello's consent. The decision stemmed from Terry's involvement in the Ferdinand incident, and Capello later resigned over it (Daily Telegraph).

Capello's successor, Roy Hodgson, selected Terry for England's Euro 2012 team ahead of Ferdinand's brother, Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand.

A British court found Terry not guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand, but the FA brought charges against Terry anyway. Terry's hearing before English football's governing body was scheduled for Monday.

Apart from the controversy, Terry was perhaps England's best and most reliable defender in recent years. As captain, he led England to qualification for the 2010 World Cup, and he also appeared at Euro 2004, the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and Euro 2012.

At the club level, he has captained Chelsea during the club's unprecedented run of success. In the process, he has become a legend with the West London club's fans.

In the eyes of the general public, however, he's a polarizing figure with a lengthy rap sheet on and off the pitch.

The media's reaction to Terry's retirement has been mixed. Writing in The Sun, Chris Wyatt laments the loss of "a crucial member of Roy Hodgson's first-team" who at Euro 2012 "was outstanding for his country."

The Guardian's Daniel Taylor wasn't quite as nice. Referring to Terry's comment that his place in England's squad was "untenable," Taylor writes:

…Terry's argument is a tenuous one, undeserving of sympathy and badly undermined by the fact the FA has a duty, surely, to convene its own inquiry when a Premier League footballer—at the time the England captain, no less—is accused of calling an opponent a "f***ing black c***."

Terry has denied the charges steadfastly, and a British court found him not guilty. But his past is complicated, with the alleged affair and the accusations of racial abuse.

Much like his career as a whole, then, Terry's retirement is a complicated issue that defies neat summations and tidy sound bites. Only the benefit of hindsight will likely bring closure, both for Terry and football fans.