"If John Terry were a man he would stand up and say: 'I won't go'" - Football reacts to Wayne Bridge's England withdrawal
Shamed John Terry was last night accused of wrecking England’s World Cup chances by “dividing“ Fabio Capello’s squad.
England boss Capello has seen his World Cup plans torn apart by Terry’s affair with former team mate Wayne Bridge’s ex-partner.
It has divided opinion among players and fans alike just four months before the tournament kicks off in South Africa.
England were tipped to have their best chance of winning the trophy since 1966 but now the fall-out from Terry’s affair is in danger of overshadowing the build-up to the World Cup.
Former players have criticised Terry’s actions and ex-Liverpool star Craig Johnston was yesterday most damning of all.
Johnston said: “My immediate reaction as a 50-year-old former footballer is that you look back on your life’s crowning achievements and what you could have done and the pain this man must be going through, to make a decision not to go to the World Cup and play for England, because he can’t bear the sight of this guy [John Terry].
“This guy must be killing himself inside. Not only that, but how unselfish is he? Divisive was the word he (Bridge) used. Of course it’s divisive. If John Terry were a man of course he would stand up and say: ’I won't go.’
“He's the one that's caused all the problems. Why should Wayne Bridge have to suffer not only the humiliation of what's happened, but also the fact that this is his big moment? I think if John Terry did that it would show some team spirit."
Johnston told TalkSport: “In football they can all kick a ball. They can all run like professional athletes. Football is all about team spirit.
"At that 99% top-level, youre looking for people that will pull their heart out for each other. You can’t have someone in the dressing room that's sleeping with his best mates wife.
“It goes back to the Bible days; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife. You can’t do that stuff and pretend to be captain of England, a good guy, and a make a rally-rally-rally-call when you're a sneaky bugger sneaking around doing that stuff. John Terry's got a lot of soul searching to do.”
Former Arsenal and England left back Nigel Winterburn said he understood Bridge’s decision - but was still shocked at him pulling out and says it’s a “massive blow.”
Winterburn added: “In a way I can understand his thoughts - we have got this match coming up on March 3 and I imagine the tension wouldn’t be on the football game. Instead it would be on John Terry and Wayne Bridge.
“Any top player wants to pit himself against the best in the world on the biggest stage and that is the World Cup. To rule yourself out of that is absolutely amazing and just shows the feeling Wayne must have towards John Terry.
“Deep down Wayne is obviously thinking he can’t work with John Terry again and doesn’t really want to be anywhere near him.
“If that’s the way he feels, rather than having a tension in and around the England camp, we have to pick somebody who can come in and do the job as well as Wayne Bridge.
“I commend him for what he is saying if he feels he can’t work with John Terry.
“I also think it’s a massive blow for England - but on the flip side maybe it’s a good thing because we don’t want any tension around our squad in the build up and preparation for the World Cup.”
Mark Perryman, chairman of the England Supporters’ Association, says it has left Capello with a huge task of repairing the damage caused.
Perryman said: “I think Wayne Bridge has taken a very big and courageous decision for the good of the team but what has happened with John Terry still leaves a very difficult air around the team.
“What John Terry has done is not morally respectful but it’s not illegal either.
“There is a danger now that the squad will be divided and players will be up for one side or the other. It will be a huge challenge for Fabio Capello to repair.
“Capello is a hugely experienced manager but comes from the land of Romeo and Juliet to a place where Romeo runs off with Juliet’s best friend.
“It is a desperate shame because this is without doubt England’s best chance for a long time.
“But the England squad is not the happy family that we all expected it to be. But the only positive to come out of this is that it’s happened now and there aren’t last minute injuries in April and May.
“But this will be a huge test for Fabio Capello to get England back on track because it’s a mess at the moment.”
Footballers have also been angry about the Terry affair, Bridge’s Manchester City team mates even wearing “Team Bridge“ T-shirts during a game to show their support for their left back.
Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips are regular members of the England squad and if they are called up next week then their loyalties may be torn.