Even though people have jumped in with relish to comment on the John Terry story much like the man himself would fly into a two-footed tackle, I’ve held back for fear of confusing well-intention football analysis with tabloid tittle tattle. It’s been well known in football circles for years that the Chelsea captain’s been fond of chasing a bit of skirt, despite having met his wife at school, but what motivates me to suggest Fabio Capello should strip the Chelsea skipper of his England armband isn’t moral indignation but a sense of history about the role of national team leader.
Terry doesn’t compare to Bobby Moore in terms of leadership or football ability despite the two men having grown up a few streets apart in East London. Moore might have been the victim of an attempted set up in the days before the Mexico World Cup but he was a commanding, and yet curiously quiet, leader. Far more than that, he was the cultured, continental-style centre half Terry can only dream of doing.
The argument about role models and footballers has been done to death this week. Suffice to say that impressionable kids look up to this guys. But there’s a greater level of responsibility that comes with being the England captain: that person should embody something about the nation. Look at some of the more recent skippers (Robson, Lineker and Shearer for example). Tony Adams and David Beckham weren’t exactly untouchable but their list of indiscretions isn’t as long and as damaging as Terry’s:
Sep 2001: Terry, Frank Lampard, Jody Morris and Eidur Gudjohnsen verbally abused and insulted American tourists just hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and preceded to strip, swear and vomit in a hotel at Heathrow Airport. Terry and the rest of the players were fined two weeks wages.
2002: Involved in an incident at a London nightclub with Jody Morris and Des Byrne. Temporarily suspended from the England set-up while case went to court, where Terry was acquitted in 2006.
2004: Terry, with Scott Parker and (hello) Wayne Bridge, blew £40,000 a week on horses and dog races. He apparently enjoyed the ‘buzz’ of a betting shop in Cobham.
Dec 2004: Terry caught cheating on his fiancee for the fourth time.
May 2005: Terry ‘urinated in a glass’ and left it on the floor at a London nightclub, behaving ‘disgracefully’ according to onlookers. Nice.
March 2008: Parks in a disabled parking bay outside Pizza Express in Esher, with a public 50p-an-hour car park down the road. Fined £60.
Nov 2008: Terry caught in a tabloid story claiming that he’d had sex with a 17-year-old Chelsea fan in the back of his Bentley.
Nov 2009: Rivieria Entertainment, a marketing firm in Enfield, send out a press release telling interested parties that Terry, ‘a British sporting icon’ was ‘available to create effective brand awareness and endorse products and services globally’ ahead of the World Cup. Capello is understood to have spoken to Terry about the need for his captain to remain focused on the job in hand.
Dec 2009: Terry is caught in a News of the World sting accepting £10,000 handed over to his agent in return for access to Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.
Jan 2010: ‘Super injunction’ over Terry’s alleged affair with Bridge’s partner, Vanessa Perroncel, lifted. It emerges that the Chelsea had been sleeping with Perroncel behind his team-mate’s back.
Feb 2010: The Mirror alledges Terry had an affair with another top flight player’s partner. Daily Mail investigation claims Terry’s ‘private box’ at Wembley is being offered for £4,000 a match.
That’s not counting the scandals surrounding his parents, which Terry can’t be held responsible for really. Capello’s cultivated this image as a disciplinarian, almost a benign dictator, that has worked to England’s advantage since he has been in charge. Whilst his fellow Italians probably think this is much ado about nothing, the England coach can’t demand responsible behaviour from his players and do nothing when his captain crosses the line. It’s a good thing he spurned Jean Tigana’s advances and didn’t sign for Fulham back in 2001, isn’t it?