John Terry Threatens to Be England's Most Compelling World Cup Storyline...Again

Sam TigheFeatured Columnist IVMarch 8, 2017

Associated Press

It was all beginning to look so simple for Roy Hodgson in the build-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but those of you acquainted with the way England's national team works will know this was merely a front for inevitable internal turmoil—bound to rear its ugly head sooner rather than later.

Indeed, the beginning of the 2013-14 season saw the Three Lions qualify for the showpiece event in first place from Group H, seeing off the genuine challenge of Ukraine and Poland with relative comfort and booking their tickets to Brazil.

Despite a switch in playing style, chopping and changing in midfield, an open-door policy on the forward line (due to ailments), questions in the goalkeeping department and an eye-watering World Cup group—featuring Italy and Uruguay—things seemed to be going pretty well.

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24:  John Terry of England gestures during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

One major factor in the perceived "calm" over England's preparations for the tournament was the presence of an established, proven, quality centre-back pairing in Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka—a rarity in these waters it must be said.

The two played alongside each other in five of the nation's 10 qualifiers, including four of the last five, and appear to have impressed Hodgson enough to stick with them for the finals this summer.

Joleon Lescott, originally fully in favour and playing, has been ousted due to his inability to break into the Manchester City side and John Terry retired after the first match of the campaign against Moldova.

But it's in Terry there lies an issue for England, and Hodgson's latest comments, via the BBC, regarding whether or not the Chelsea man could play a part in his side this summer have paved the way for yet another compelling, or perhaps annoying, storyline leading into the World Cup proper:

The door isn't open because he has retired from international football. When players retire, we move on.

We moved on after our first qualification game, when John Terry limped off, and since that time we have chosen the players who are available, who have represented us well in my opinion, so we will continue with that.

John has retired and as far as I am concerned that is the situation. We have got along without him for the whole of the qualification [period].

Seems pretty clear-cut, right? 

Wrong. This is the English national team, and the fact that a player has retired has almost no bearing on public clamour for said player's involvement when it comes to a World Cup.

In 2010, Fabio Capello successfully hauled Jamie Carragher out of retirement and took him to South Africa as a third-choice centre-back. He also tried to convince Paul Scholes to come along, but the Manchester United stalwart was unmoved by the Italian's approach.

This year will be no different, and Terry's superlative form in the heart of the Premier League's best defence can only end in one way: vocal baying for the 33-year-old to return for one last hurrah.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24:  Gary Cahill (L) and John Terry of Chelsea look on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on March 24, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

His partnership with Cahill under Jose Mourinho has many fans questioning why Hodgson wouldn't want to transplant that straight into his England setup. It's harsh on Jagielka, who's been incredible for both club and country all season, but familiarity remains the name of the game in tournament football.

And here's the kicker: it's not that Hodgson doesn't want to do that. He hasn't said "we don't want Terry" at all, but merely inferred that unless the player comes out of retirement, he won't be considered.

It will be up to the Chelsea legend to go to Roy and ask to be a part of the group, and the "will he, won't he?" element of this precarious situation will dominate the run-up to the Three Lions' campaign in Brazil.

Despite Hodgson's best efforts to distance himself from another Terry saga, the centre-back seems well on course to making it three in a row. In 2010 it was his extramarital affair, in 2012 it was his racial allegations trial; what on earth are we going to talk about when he retires from sport for good?