By now, the world knows. The story has permeated throughout mainstream media across the world. John Terry has been removed as captain of the England National soccer team.
The story, for those few that do not know, goes a little like this: John Terry, married with two children, began having an affair with another woman. As if the affair was not bad enough, it was clouded even more by the fact that the affair was with a woman named Vanessa Perroncel.
Perroncel happened to be the long-time girlfriend and mother to the child of Terry’s close friend Wayne Bridge. To muddy the waters even more, Bridge was not just Terry’s friend, he is also a professional soccer player teammates at both club Chelsea (Bridge has since transferred to a different club) and with the England National team.
So that’s pretty much the story. The moral, personal, and professional issues that come into play in this situation are complicated. First, you have Terry, captain and leader of England, getting vilified in press worldwide, dealing with resolving his personal life, under what I can only imagine to be impossible stress.
Second, you have teammates, both club and country who have spent years building professional and personal relationships with both players. There are, as to be expected, players taking sides both publicly and privately. Lines are drawn, team chemistry goes out the window. Finally, you have the sticky situation in which the coach, Fabio Capello, and team administrations find themselves faced with.
What to do?
The only thing that can be done: damage control. Terry should have immediately come forward and made the decision to resign as captain, but that would have been the appropriate thing to do, but Terry doesn’t do appropriate—more on that later in the story.
Finally, Capello strips Terry of the captaincy. But what about having Bridge and Terry together on the roster? Here, an interesting twist comes into play. Eric Wynalda, former US National team star, reveals on his TV show that an identical situation happened in the run up to the 1998 World Cup.
US team captain John Harkes was allegedly having and affair with Wynalda’s wife. The US coach at the time, Steve Sampson, was made aware of the potential problem and removed Harkes as both captain and left him off the roster for the 1998 World Cup.
Wynalda said on his show that the team would have fared better had Harkes been in the lineup, despite what was happening off the field. The priority, in Wynalda’s mind, should have been fielding the best possible team. Obviously, coach Sampson believed that the team would be better served without the distraction, Harkes, despite being captain, was more expendable than Wynalda.
It is easy for Wynalda to say the team would have been better off with Harkes on the squad now. It could have been much different while the affair was happening before his very eyes. It is also easy to say, considering the strength and depth of the US team in 1998—it was relatively weak and shallow.
So back to Terry and England. Terry is expendable as captain, but as—arguably—the best central defender in the world, he is of utmost importance. Bridge, on the other hand, could be regarded as maybe the second or third best left back in the English squad, with the drop off in ability in the next best left back being marginal.
Bridge becomes the expendable player here, despite being the person who has been wronged. I know it’s like kicking a man while he’s down, but it’s just the truth.
Damage control has been done, and now it’s up to manager Capello and Terry himself to help heal the wounds that are sure to exist within the locker room. They only have four months to get things right, so they better get to it quick. England next faces Egypt in March and it will be interesting to see how the team responds.
Now on to Terry himself. I really do not like this guy. Over the past decade, I have read numerous reports of Terry’s transgressions, and although I hugely admiring him for his pure soccer talent and work ethic, the man is a miserable human being. Let’s go through the list starting with this most recent incident.
- Terry is having and affair with one of his best friend’s longtime girlfriend and mother of his friend’s child. That’s low in and of itself, but Terry is also married with two children of his own. And, to top it all off, just months ago, he was honored in England with the 2009 father of the year award. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.
- Just a mere two months ago, Terry was accused of accepting payments for behind the scenes tours of Chelsea’s training grounds.
- As captain of England, Terry is provided with a luxury box at London’s Wembley Stadium. Reports are now out suggesting Terry is offering the use of the box to private bidders. Strictly forbidden by team rules.
- Terry has taken full advantage of libel laws in England (mainly those that allow to easily sue and reap significant rewards) for almost anything he deems unsuitable. As an example, he was able to stop a prominent London newspaper from running a story about a missed penalty kick in the Champions League final. (What could be so offensive and libelous in a story about a missed penalty kick? We will never know.)
- In Terry’s younger years, he decided to publicly expose himself, and urinate into a pint glass at a night club in Essex. He then proceeded to dump the contents on the club floor.
- Perhaps most heinous, at least to me, was Terry’s mocking and taunting of American tourists in Heathrow airport immediately following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
John Terry, you are a terrible human being, you deserved to lose the captaincy. But you also deserve a few more things, like a very public divorce, and a very large settlement for your (hopefully) soon to be ex-wife. You deserve some other things too, but I won’t mention them here.
For some more info on John Terry saga and it’s connection to Team USA in 1998 check out these links.