Terry has let too many people down to warrant sympathy
John Terry polarises opinion like no other footballer in the modern era. Chelsea’s captain is one fan’s hero, another’s villain. For the record, for this observer his stage-managed retirement from international football has not come soon enough.
Chelsea fans will probably call that character assassination. Facts don’t tend to get in the way in the JT psychodrama. Everyone acts on instinct and inclination. The timing of the announcement of his decision – on the eve of the FA investigation into his alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand – was crass and self-serving.
Terry’s leadership skills are raw, yet undeniably effective. He has an ability to make a vocal minority believe in him, or what he would like to suppose he represents. His attempt to portray himself as a victim was entirely in character: manipulative, overwrought and utterly transparent.
To give credit where it is due, he has given England outstanding service since winning the first of his 78 caps in a friendly against Hungary in June 2003. No one can doubt his courage and commitment to the cause. Injury, and the toll of the game’s relentless physicality, may have led to a decline in efficiency, but he was missed during the recent draw with Ukraine.
But, in complaining that the FA charges made his position “untenable“, Terry invited a restatement of the obvious: he has let down too many people, too often, to warrant sympathy. He has been a consistent embarrassment and has compromised his last two England managers, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson.
His presence divided the dressing room and provided unwanted distractions. Despite his mental strength, and an uncanny ability to ignore the mushroom cloud of controversy that hangs perpetually over his head, he became a liability.
He has the right to remind the world he was acquitted of similar charges, in Westminster magistrate’s court. But the FA have the right to pursue their own investigation into the events of last October’s west London derby at Loftus Road. The issues raised are so profound they cannot be ignored.
If Terry is found guilty by the FA’s four-man independent panel, his England career will be incidental. Chelsea will come under immediate pressure to consider his future. A powerful precedent will be quoted: the club banned a supporter for life in May for racially abusing Didier Drogba.
The psychodrama is nowhere near over.
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