Talk of the town today is news that Chelsea defender John Terry has retired from international football. As public opinion rolls in, there will undoubtedly be mixed emotions regarding his career, his achievements and his failings.
What will more than likely be overlooked is his reason for issuing the retirement notice.
John Terry, 31, has served England since 2003, earning 78 caps in total. He has played as the England captain, been stripped of that captaincy and then reinstated as captain. Through good times and bad, through back injuries and personal struggles, John Terry has been ready whenever his country called upon him.
Terry has not been without controversy throughout his career, with troubles including insensitive behaviour in an airport, an arrest for affray, an extra-marital affair with a teammate's spouse and the recent trial for alleged racial abuse. However, through all this he performed consistently for club and country and, if anything, seemed to play his best football when the spotlight was on him (obviously, that is just my opinion).
His retirement notice will come as a blow to new England manager Roy Hodgson, as he begins shaping his squad to guide them through qualification and then tournament preparation for the 2014 World Cup. With Hodgson's recent squad selection for England bringing a number of young players into the team, senior professionals like Terry would have been relied upon to help integrate the new guys into the setup. In fact, Hodgson was quoted in this UK Yahoo! Eurosport article expressing his disappointment at Terry's decision.
Can You Blame Terry for Turning his Back on the FA? (That's the FA not England)
Now, back to my original question from the title—can you blame Terry for retiring from the international scene?
John Terry has been bounced around by the FA for years. Stripped of his captaincy by the FA over an extra-marital affair with a former teammate's spouse, Terry was still asked to continue playing for the team by his manager at the time, Italian Fabio Capello, who later reinstated Terry as captain.
Terry was also banned from selection to the national team while legal investigations into assault and affray charges from a 2002 nightclub incident were being cleared up.
There was the backlash Terry had to endure after he was selected ahead of Rio Ferdinand for the 2012 European Championship.
Then comes the final nail in the coffin, or at least it would be the final nail if I was in John Terry's shoes. In spite of being found not guilty in the racial abuse incident with Anton Ferdinand, the FA are today carrying their own hearing into the matter.
In moments like this, I try to put myself into the other individuals' shoes and see how I would respond. In this case, Terry has been cleared of the charges in court and could still be banned if an FA panel choose to rule differently to the British legal system. I don't know about you, but that would irk the hell out of me!
So ask yourself this, if you had been proven innocent in a court of law for any alleged offense only for the governing body over your job to ignore a legal ruling and cast their own decisions, would you not want to do something in retaliation? These same individuals who are deciding whether to ignore the fact that the British legal system found the man not guilty are the same people who rule over the England national team, the same people who have already bounced the guy from pillar to post.
Whether you like Terry or not, you have to respect his decision to no longer play ball with these individuals.