Arise, captain Gerrard! Why Liverpool skipper must now lead England too
Perhaps the biggest single reason for proposing Steven Gerrard as England captain, is that he would at least act like one.
Let us get this clear. He is no angel, on the pitch or off it. He’s had his moments where his drive and passion have taken him into that red zone all competitive sportsmen must flirt with.
Essentially though, he is a decent person who knows how to behave like a leader, and that is exactly what the FA requires at this moment, as the credibility of the national game is again under serious question.
This is not the time or place to go into the rights and wrongs of the John Terry case, because a court will rightly decide that issue, not us.
At the moment, we must assume he is innocent, but that does not assume it absolves him of all responsibility. And whichever way you look at the currently situation, you can’t say that Terry has acted like a skipper, like a leader of men.
A true England captain would have put the team and his country first, and offered to step down when he found himself in court on such a serious charge, that has massive ramifications not just for the game, but for society in general.
Of course we must assume Terry is innocent and doesn’t want to prejudice his case with anything that may suggest otherwise. But what is an England captain supposed to be, above all else? Selfless.
He should put even his own self interest behind that of his team, and his country, even if it affects him personally. So the captain’s thing to have done without doubt, with controversy raging and the national team under intense fire, would have been to step down.
Because he didn’t do that, because he hasn’t recognised his actions in continuing are potentially damaging to the performance of his team and the country he represents, Terry has shown he is not really a suitable candidate to be skipper.
Of course, few men are, and of course, John Terry is perfectly entitled to put himself first and ensure there is no message of guilt in anything he does.
But I suspect Steven Gerrard would have known it was time to stand down as captain, and that is not just idle speculation. In 2005, after coming close to signing for Chelsea, he offered to resign as Liverpool skipper, because in considering the offer he felt he may have been diminished in the role.
Again, in 2009, when he was facing a charge of affray and subsequent court appearance – where his innocence was established – he asked his employers if they felt he should continue as captain.
On both occasions Liverpool wanted him to continue, because they felt his leadership qualities were not questioned, but affirmed by his attitude, and they felt he was still the best man to do the job.
They were right. No current Premier League captain has a greater influence over his team-mates, or an impact on his team. He is a naturally serious guy, who leads by example.
After his court case, where he was told by the judge he could “walk away with his reputation intact”, he explained he felt the incident had changed him, because despite his innocence he knew he was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ and that had to change.
As for the question of his fitness, he maintains he is stronger and fitter now that he has been at just about any point in his career, and there is no reason to suggest he can’t go through the season untroubled now, and lead England into the European Championships.
If he does, just watch his performances get even better for his country. Some people are bowed by captaincy, inhibited by its bestowal, but not Gerrard. He grows in the role, and thrives on it.
Not only is he the best man for the job of England captain, he is the only one, because even though he will say himself he’s no saint, he at least understands perfectly what is required in the role – and that is to put his team-mates and his country first.
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