Love him or hate him, John Terry evokes a strong response among supporters—and among fellow footballers, and referees, for that matter.
No longer England’s captain in name, but still without a doubt the team’s strongest personality on the field, John Terry hasn’t had the best of years.
What can we expect of Terry in South Africa? Will he redeem himself in the eyes of the public by hoisting the trophy? Or will he disgrace himself with poor form and further personal scandals? Are the two even mutually exclusive?
Here are 10 things you should know about John Terry that might help predict whether the Chelsea captain will be England’s saviour or laughingstock, or both.
1. The Teammate’s Missus Thing
He cheated on his wife with current England and former Chelsea teammate Wayne Bridge’s partner, Vanessa Perroncel (some say ex at the time, but it’s unclear). Bridge, now at Manchester City, promptly withdrew from international service, calling the situation untenable.
2. ...And the Stripped Armband Thing
But before Bridge even made his announcement, England coach Fabio Capello had apparently already agreed the situation was untenable, and he stripped John Terry of the England captaincy.
Cue fevered national debate on a) the relevance of fidelity to on-pitch team leadership; b) whether it’s about cheating on his wife or betraying his teammate; and c) why the English are so obsessed with the notion of captaincy.
And cue John Terry on his next appearance with Chelsea giving a post-match interview, shirtless but with captain’s armband prominently displayed.
3. The Case Of the Dodgy Dad
Bridgie-gate wasn’t JT’s first embarrassing tabloid outing. Ted Terry, John’s father, was caught on video in November selling cocaine to an undercover cop in a bar...
4. ...And the Miscreant Mum
...which dovetailed nicely with his mother’s arrest for shoplifting last March. Cue terrace songs to the tune of “You are my Sunshine” with the words “Your mum’s out stealing, your dad’s drug dealing.”
5. The Cash For Tours Affair
JT, himself, was the subject of a secret video camera sting when he was set up by tabloid News of the World and caught accepting £10,000 cash in exchange for a personal tour of the Chelsea training ground, strictly forbidden by the club.
6. The Sleaze Factor
The Terry tabloid tale that left perhaps the worst taste in the mouth was when he was fined last March for parking his Bentley (what else would it be?) in a disabled parking spot, where he blithely left it for two hours while he had lunch, ignoring legitimate parking just a few yards away.
The statute of limitations for disgust has not quite run out on John Terry’s disgraceful behavior in September 2001, when, during an extended binge at a Heathrow hotel, he and Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jody Morris drunkenly abused and taunted Americans stranded by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
8. John Terry Was Born In Barking
Yes, the very place that has enriched the English language as a synonym for completely insane. Might this explain something?
9. That Penalty Miss
John Terry has the distinction among England players of making the most unimaginably embarrassing penalty miss not for his country, but for his club. Terry single-footedly lost Chelsea the 2008 Champions League final when he slipped while striking what would have been the winning penalty in a shootout against Manchester United, and sent the ball sailing wide.
10. But He Actually Is a Good Defender
There’s always a silver lining, and Chelsea fans will tell you how instrumental Terry has been in the club’s rise to prominence. His form has generally been impervious to the various tabloid maelstroms, and despite some alarming hiccups in the aftermath of Bridgie-gate, he regained form to lead Chelsea to the Premier League and FA Cup Double—which bodes extremely well for England at World Cup 2010.