Whether you believe John Terry should be England captain or not comes down to whether you take a moral or a footballing stance.
There’s no disputing Terry has a charge sheet longer than the average and some of his indiscretions have been crass, loutish, thoughtless, tactless and to some, indefensible. Fabio Capello’s necessity to strip him of the England captaincy in February last year was wholly justified for team reasons alone, regardless that his alleged dalliance with Wayne Bridge’s former other half was once again completely irresponsible for a man in his position. Focussing solely on behavioural and personal issues, we venture into the realms of hypocrisy and contradiction, and in the end, little reasoning.
During a career that has spanned over a decade Terry has essentially been involved in a handful of alleged drunken incidents and more than a handful of salacious tabloid sex tales. There have been other misdemeanours and circumstances he won’t remember fondly but when we put this into context, do such vices not occur across all walks of this country in varying ages, sexes, races, classes and minds?
To many England fans Terry is vehemently denounced whilst George Best is lauded for similar shenanigans. Terry is incomparable to that legendary gentleman, Sir Bobby Moore – the man who left his wife for a teenage air hostess and Terry will never be revered like Tony Adams was for his Euro 96 antics, despite Adams being sent down for drink driving and once appearing on the front pages for firing a flare gun into a disabled toilet.
According to some he’s a poor role-model for the nations kids, but how many of those same kids want to achieve in the sport what Terry has achieved? How many of those kids parents are poor role-models to them, and how many of those kids will grow to have the aptitude, attitude and commitment to become one of the very elite in his field?
Moving away from principled reasoning against, paramount to Capello’s u-turn was what was best for the England football team, on the pitch. The World Cup charade highlighted the general lack of leadership within the ranks and the sight of the armband being tossed around like an oily rag against Denmark last month was a true slight on the likes of Moore and Adams who fought so hard to earn the right to wear it.
Capello’s incumbency of Rio Ferdinand failed through little fault of his own but ongoing injury doubts have brought us circular after Steven Gerrard completely failed to impose himself in South Africa and beyond and has also been regularly prone to injury.
Since the Italian took over the reigns, Terry has played in 127 of Chelsea’s 156 games, a ratio of over 80%. During the same span, Ferdinand has player less than half of Manchester United’s games. Ferdinand, regardless of how good when fit, is often injured and cannot be relied upon to go through the next 15 months consistently enough to rudder the side through European Championship qualification and the event itself.
Recent home humblings by Montenegro and France have piled pressure on Capello to deliver and he has chosen to turn to the man that has always been and always will be this side’s natural captain. In his first press-briefing back, whilst admitting that he ‘wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea’, he also told the nation that in footballing terms, within that squad nobody has a problem with him and that the squad as a whole back him as skipper. They know too that John Terry is the best and strongest leader for them as individuals and as a team.
It is easy to forget that virtually all of our footballers have some indiscretions lurking and few can legitimately take a moral standpoint. The England football captaincy is not about giving it to somebody to represent the country, it is about getting one man to get the best out of the rest for the good of the team to represent the country. That man, is John Terry.