Chelsea: Why John Terry Shouldn't Return to Playing for England
Terry retired from playing for his nation in September 2012 following an incident and ensuing suspension involving Anton Ferdinand, but the Guardian now reports that the defender could be ready to make a return to feature in the FIFA World Cup in 2014, which will be hosted by Brazil.
Conflicting reports quickly emerged (via the BBC) saying that he had not decided to make himself available for selection again, but it certainly seems that there are those around who would support any such decision at this point.
It begs the question of whether it would be the right move—for player and nation—for Terry to make a comeback; here are the reasons why perhaps it would indeed not be.
His Club Future Is Far from Assured
Before deciding on whether or not he should play for England again, shouldn't Terry first and foremost be a settled, undisputed regular for his club? This season, he has not been that.
Terry has made just 12 appearances in the Premier League this season and 25 in all competitions. Compare that to last term, when he made double the number for club and country all told.
A knee injury cost Terry six weeks in the side around the turn of the year, and since then he has been unable to force his way back into the team on a regular basis. There also persist rumours that Terry will be leaving the club in the summer, and he has said he will not join another Premier League team (via the Times).
With Terry's club future and first-team place far from assured, he cannot surely be considered—or himself be considering—a recall to the national team.
National Team Service Shouldn't Be Decided on a Season-to-Season Basis
It used to be that representing one's nation was amongst the highest honours that a footballer could be given, especially at a major tournament.
For some that may remain the case, but there is undeniably an increase in the number of players—and managers and fans—who see the international scene as an additional burden, an irksome interruption to the regular season and something to be put up with until the big tournaments roll around.
Club over country, prolonging the playing career and not being first choice have all been used as reasons for players to announce their retirement from the game at the international level.
That's fine if a player truly does not want to continue playing for their nation—but should they then be allowed to renege on their decision?
Regardless of the amount of respect given to international football, it should not be something they can flit in and out of on a whim.
John Terry's Feelings Toward the FA
John Terry, the man himself, must also be considered.
He has had altercations with England before, including an unbacked call for Joe Cole to figure in the national team more regularly and with personal issues with teammates including Wayne Bridge.
But not until this season had he really looked in any danger of turning his back on England.
A long-running row involving QPR defender Anton Ferdinand started in October 2011, when Terry was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand.
The case dragged on for just shy of a year as Terry was taken to court and cleared of making a racist insult, then charged by the FA and found guilty of "using insulting words which included a reference to Anton Ferdinand's colour or race" (h/t the Guardian).
Just days before the announcement and subsequent fine and suspension was imposed on Terry, he announced his retirement from playing for England. Terry made clear his reasons for the decision:
I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.
It was clearly the FA was where his disappointment and anger were directed at, and recent reports indicate that his feelings have not changed as he refused to shake hands with David Bernstein, the FA chairman (via the Guardian).
Would the Chelsea defender now feel any less antagonistic toward the organisation? And should he? It was the FA who stripped him of the England captaincy and pressed ahead with charging him after he was cleared by a court of law. If Tery couldn't commit 100 percent to the team cause while representing the English FA, it would no doubt be better for all parties if there was no return anyway.
The Players Already in Place
Terry himself isn't the only player in the picture.
While Wayne Bridge's England career has long been over and Anton Ferdinand never had one at senior level, there are of course more central defenders who have taken over the mantle of being England's rearguard.
Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill—Terry's teammate at Chelsea—have all played at centre-back for England since Terry departed the scene, with Steven Caulker and Chris Smalling playing backup roles. And they would all have every right to feel aggrieved if they were dumped to one side after someone who had effectively turned his back on helping them suddenly changed their mind.
England have played seven games since Terry's retirement, losing just one (a friendly fixture) and keeping two clean sheets in that time (admittedly both against San Marino). There is a case to argue, from the point of view of the current squad members, that Terry has not been significantly missed, nor that his club form has proven so electric that he should be considered a must-recall to the national team.
It may yet come to pass that Terry plays again for England and adds to his 78 caps, but there are plenty of reasons for it not to be the case for all parties involved.