Chelsea captain John Terry brought his England career to an end yesterday evening by retiring from international football at the age of 31.
Terry feels the FA has made his position as a member of the national team “untenable”, which paraphrased seems to suggest that Terry believes himself to be the victim of a malicious smear campaign, designed to make it as difficult as possible for him to return to his duties for England.
The statement read as follows: “In advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge [I am retiring from international football] because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.”
The trial launched by the FA, which many believe will find the former England skipper guilty where, as he points out, a court of law has not, began this morning.
Is Terry right to take this decision? Does his attack on the FA’s motives and decision carry any real weight? An FA response was quick to follow with general secretary Alex Horne dismissing the player’s claim that he has been hounded out of England contention and given no real choice but to resign.
Horne said: “It’s a personal decision. I don’t see how we’ve made it untenable, they’re two very separate processes.
“It’s something that happened in a match – it shouldn’t be taking a year to resolve but we feel we’re reaching a conclusion on that. That’s a very different process from our England procedures, they sit in different compartments and I could separate the two in my mind, but it doesn’t look like he could”.
This is the question that everyone is asking. For there can be no debate whatsoever about Terry’s ability nor his potential to contribute to the England set up, whether from a guaranteed starting berth or as an older, more experienced squad member. Indeed, this decision is only really going to hurt national team manager Roy Hodgson, who has stuck by Terry throughout.
It clearly has not been an easy choice for Terry to make, and the latter part of his statement expressed the centre back’s disappointment and sadness to be walking away from England prematurely.
“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I wish Roy and the team every success for the future”, he added.
Nonetheless, this decision looks rather like cowardice and indicative of a man with not only somewhat of a victim complex, but also a keen feeling that he may well have a case to answer to, despite being acquitted in a court of law.
By so publicly pouring scorn on the FA for even daring to bring him to trial shows the arrogance of the man, and choosing to retire rather than face a lengthy ban from international football demonstrates that fear and self-preservation are bigger motivators for the 78-time England cap than anything else.
To some extent, Terry’s fears of a guilty verdict being handed down by the FA are justified. Unlike a legal trial, which requires a verdict to be “beyond reasonable doubt”, the burden of proof is far lower in the commission that will be assessing the validity of the racial abuse claim made by Ferdinand against Terry for last year’s incident at Loftus Road.
Still, the pre-emptive decision Terry has taken does little to assuage the general feeling that he does have something to hide, is taking the easy way out and cannot possibly feel as much respect for his role within the England set up, his manager or the laws and creed of the FA as he may like to claim.
Terry’s England career proved him a leader of the highest order and rewarded one of the most committed, successful and passionate defenders in the Premier League with a nine year stint at the heart of the Three Lions defence.
He will be missed and his ability will be celebrated, but after yesterday’s episode there is one thing Terry may never experience again outside of Stamford Bridge – respect.
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