The Untold John Terry Story and Why England Need Him Back
It's the week of an international break, but rather than slipping into an England training kit, the past few days have seen John Terry preparing for a charity match.
Alongside fellow Premier League stars Gabriel Agbonlahor and Gareth Barry, Terry appeared in Stiliyan Petrov's #19 Legends Charity Match in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea fan or neutral, whatever your persuasion, it must seem like a vast waste of talent. It's admirable Terry is willing to support a cause such as Petrov's, but with all he still has to offer, the Blues' captain should be part of the First Names on the Teamsheet club in the England set-up.
As we know, he isn't, so where did it all go wrong? Well, in large part, Terry has played a considerable role in ensuring his international career has come to a premature end.
It started in January 2010 when then England coach Fabio Capello was forced to strip Terry of the England captaincy following an alleged extra-marital affair with the former partner of Wayne Bridge.
By the time that news was broken, Bridge had joined Chelsea's rivals Manchester City, but the pair had remained close friends. Needless to say, the headlines across various tabloid newspapers in the weeks after put an end to that and the negative publicity left Capello with just one option. Terry lost the England captaincy.
It was a crucial time, not just for the Chelsea defender, but also for his country, as the England team looked to build momentum heading into the World Cup in South Africa.
Losing their captain in such controversial circumstances threw the Three Lions a considerable curve ball. It left them without their leader, but also resulted in rumors of rifts in the camp as certain players—notably Steven Gerrard according to Goal.com—reportedly withdrew their support for his inclusion in the England squad, let alone him remaining captain.
Terry remained, but England's World Cup campaign eventually fell apart.
They were lucky to draw with the USA in their opening match in South Africa, while they struggled against Algeria and Slovenia, eventually finishing second in their group behind the Americans.
Facing Germany in the second round, they were dealt a footballing lesson, being crushed 4-1.
There were plenty of factors contributing to it, yet Terry's own personal problems only sought to amplify England's failure.
Not only that, he was accused of very publicly attempting to undermine his manager in a now infamous press conference ahead of England's crucial game with Slovenia that would decide their World Cup fate.
The pressure was on and England needed nothing but a win against the Slovenians to ensure their progress. In typical fashion, Terry was going into the game looking for a battle—not with the opposition, though, but with Capello.
Ahead of the game, he told the assembled press he was planning a meeting with the manager and the squad was ready to lay their feelings on the line.
"If it upsets [Capello] then I’m on the verge of just saying, “You know what? So what, I’m here to win it for England,"' he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.
His comments sent shockwaves throughout the English game, although the meeting never went ahead as Terry had planned. Instead, Capello analyzed the Algeria game with his players.
But like his alleged affair, the damage was already done and it put Terry in a difficult position.
Things were building up. Shortly after reports had circulated in January about his marital indiscretions, he was accused by the Daily Mail of attempting to rent out his hospitality suite at Wembley Stadium for £4,000—something given to him as a perk for being England captain.
Quite why a millionaire football player needed to rent out the box remains a mystery and whether it was Terry's intention or not, his character and reputation took a further beating with it.
For all that he has been criticized off the pitch, Terry's commitment and ability has never been called into question.
The Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge carries the banner "JT: Captain. Leader. Legend" for that very reason.
He's the club's most successful captain, outshining the likes of Dennis Wise and Ron Harris before him. For all the millions Roman Abramovich has pumped into the club in the past decade, Terry has been the presence on the field helping bring it together for the club.
It was his attitude and application that eventually saw him reinstated as England captain just over a year after he was stripped of it.
"John, when he played without the armband, was every time a leader on the pitch, a leader in the dressing room. He was really good every time," Capello told BBC Sport in March 2011.
"Always he is the same. He is a player that is himself a leader. This is really important. He is the biggest personality in the dressing room."
Indeed he is, but it wasn't long before Terry was in hot water once more, again losing the England captaincy.
It wasn't his life away from the pitch being called into question this time, it was an incident with QPR defender Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road, seven months after Capello had performed his captaincy U-turn.
A 1-0 victory for the Hoops that October would have been quickly forgotten by many Blues fans, yet what followed meant it will be for ever ingrained in the minds of football supporters across the country.
After an altercation in the penalty box, Terry was accused of racially abusing his opposite number, an accusation he strongly denied.
The case went to court—although it took almost 10 months—and he was found not guilty, being cleared of the racism charge put against him. An FA hearing weeks later in September 2012 saw otherwise, however, and he was banned for four matches along with with receiving a £220,000 fine.
Shortly before the hearing with The FA, Terry had decided to call time on international career.
"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," Terry confirmed in an official statement (via BBC Sport).
It's been almost a year since Terry made that decision and as we reflect on his retirement from the international stage, it's clear everyone has lost out—Roy Hodgson lacks a genuine leader in his defence and Terry's legacy with England will always be remembered for how he bowed out.
Should John Terry still be playing for England?
Last season saw him struggle with injury, but fully fit once more, he has looked the part again this term. Sure, his best days are beyond him, but there isn't another defender in the country that can rival his talents.
The 2014 World Cup is just 10 months away. Italy, Spain, Germany and all the other remaining contenders are preparing with their best players on hand. England haven't qualified just yet, although if they do, they face competing in Brazil with a centre-back pairing that has little or no tournament experience to their name.
That's got to be a concern and, with Terry now back performing for his club, it must only add to Hodgson's frustration.
It's going to be tough enough for most countries in Brazil. Any team without their best players will find it all the more difficult.
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