Who's sad to see 'JT' go?
With the announcement of his ‘heartbreaking’ decision to step down from international availability, John Terry finally put to bed an ugly and ungainly affair that has overshadowed the England football team for the best part of the past year. What started as an initial bout of childish name-calling spiralled out of control and into the murky realms racial slurs, leading to the resignation of his international manager and throwing the national side’s preparations for the European Championships into upheaval. Now whatever may have been said, or not said, acquittal aside Terry remains a divisive figure, splitting not only the views of fans across England, but also Terry’s own team mates in the England dressing room. Nor Is the whole Anton Ferdinand affair the first of its kind to involve Terry, having previously lost respect amongst his national team mates, and subsequently the England captaincy, after the exposure of his affair with a then club colleague’s girlfriend just prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Indeed much of the blame for England’s poor showing in that tournament can appear to be traced back to the ill atmosphere the incident had created. Together with un-football related stories regarding members of Terry’s immediate family, it is easy to understand why there won’t be much sympathy shown towards ‘JT’.
The defence for Terry since his resignation earlier this week have aimed to justify his loss to England by focusing on his abilities as a footballer alone – the last-ditch tackles, the never say die approach, throwing his body into the line of fire, all of which were admirably on show in Poland and Ukraine this summer. It took a Frenchmen however, Phillipe Auclair, on a well-known and well-loved football podcast to point out what to me has seemed obvious for many years – John Terry the footballer has been completely over-rated as a defender. The last-ditch tackles and blocks that commentators faun over when watching Terry, that define him as a player are proof of his inadequacy as a defender – he shouldn’t need to be doing that. As Auclair pointed out, “you wouldn’t have seen Franco Baresi making those kinds of last-ditch tackles”.
Even before injuries took hold of Terry’s body, he always suffered from a lack of pace, ensuring the kind of last-ditch defending for which he is regularly praised has always been a necessity. The Chelsea captain’s most successful times have come alongside defenders quick in both foot and mind – namely Ricardo Carvalho for Chelsea and Rio Ferdinand for his country.
At 31, and heading fast towards 32, Terry’s best years are already behind him. Alongside a host of young talented footballers vying for inclusion at their clubs, in Lescott, Jagielka, Rio Ferdinand and Terry’s Chelsea team-mate Gary Cahill, England do have a selection of players playing regularly for their clubs with the ability to make the step up to International level. So despite Roy Hodgson’s disappointment at the news, what have England actually lost with Terry’s retirement? A leader of men? Or a leader of the men he has yet to fall foul of? Surely this is an opportunity to move on from a divisive figure who has split the England camp at crucial points before the last two major tournaments. A player past his best, who for me, will always be remembered as the player too busy pulling his socks up while the ball sailed over his head for Germany to score a route one goal in the quarter-finals of a World Cup.
Let’s have a show of hands.
Who’s sorry to see John Terry go?