Disillusioned Terry urged not to quit England
Published 22:00 03/02/12 By Oliver Holt & Martin Lipton
Once he had been told the England captaincy had gone, John Terry began to contemplate his next step – ending his international career completely.
Until recently, he was repeatedly reassured by senior FA figures that his position as skipper was safe.
He was told he had their backing and that they would stand by him until he had a chance to defend himself in court against accusations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
Terry also knew he had the support of England boss Fabio Capello, who wanted him to lead the country into the European Championship.
But on Wednesday, when his case was adjourned, the mood began to change.
And on Thursday night, when Terry took a call from a BBC journalist telling him the FA board had voted against him, he realised his fate was sealed.
There was no face-to-face meeting with Capello, as there had been the last time Terry was stripped of the captaincy, in 2010.
No meeting at Wembley in the manager’s office and no defiant message from Terry that he would continue to give his all for the team.
Just a call from FA chairman David Bernstein informing him of the decision of the FA board.
That treatment in itself left Terry angry, depressed and hurt, convinced Bernstein and the FA had been bounced into a U-turn when all the previous soundings let him believe the decision to allow him to captain the team against Sweden in November still stood.
The question for Terry now is whether he wants to continue playing international football.
He is a proud patriot but is thought to feel deeply disillusioned he was disciplined before having a chance to try to prove his innocence.
The England captaincy was incredibly important to him. In many ways a validation of his career and commitment.
As Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, who disagrees with the FA’s action, pointed out: “Everybody takes that pride on board when they wear the shirt. It is the greatest honour in football to represent your country, maybe more so because of the importance of England captaincy.
“He will remain our captain. We’ve made it clear. It’s the club and manager’s decision to support the player up to the moment of the court.”
Yet that captaincy, that badge of honour, has now been taken away again, as it was previously when Capello disciplined him for an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge.
This time, though, Terry, furious he discovered the FA’s change of mind through the media, must know that there is no chance that he will get it back.
Already contemplating announcing his retirement as an England player – something he considered after being depicted as the leader of a coup against Capello during the 2010 World Cup – Terry has been urged by others to take time to consider his decision.
Terry still believes his actions then were only a willingness to speak out about what was going wrong so that steps could be taken to fix the problem and Capello recognised his leadership qualities when he restored him to the captaincy last March.
Despite the emergence of fine youngsters such as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, many judges believe Terry remains England’s leading defender.
Asked if he had seen a better centre-half in the Premier League this season, Villas-Boas replied: “English? You can call me biased but John has been magnificent, amazing, for us. He’s captain and leader on and off the pitch and a great player.”
But now he has again lost the England armband, there is significant doubt over whether he will be available for Euro 2012, let alone lead the team into the tournament.
Villas-Boas added: “This is a decision that can only be taken by the player.When I spoke to John, he was disappointed. But John is a person of great mental strength and great personal convictions.
“He has to move on. He’s been through a period like this before when he was stripped of the captaincy, and came back to a level of great individual performances.
"He has never dropped a level. I’m not worried about his form.”