John Terry, captain of the English National Team, which under the guidance of the granite-jawed Italian, Fabio Capello, marched through teams on its way to the quickest World Cup qualification England has seen, lost his captain’s armband due to a sex scandal involving himself, his former teammate and friend, Wayne Bridge, and Bridge’s girlfriend and mother of their child, Vanessa Perroncel. And while this very Terry-like intrusion into someone else’s penalty area, the frothing media hysteria, the PR war between those who want to turn Terry into a victim and those who want it all to end with a season on a reality TV show, is all very tedious, it is not as tedious as watching Chelsea play for the past five years which is more like watching a film of Stalin’s Russia than it is watching The Beautiful Game.
From his Italian boss’ perspective, stripping Terry of his captain’s band is not a question of morality. Anyone who watched Capello play or coach knows he’s far too pragmatic to think a player could not be a captain because an affair he’s had has come to light. Capello’s concern is what is best for the team.
British fans adore Terry because his work rate is among the highest and he plays even when his body is broken. Sure, there’s little else to like about him. He looks like a troll and he acts like one. The day after terrorists attached the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Terry and a couple of his pals capped off a bender by making 9/11-related comments to U.S. tourists at a Heathrow hotel. Terry, a man who makes over $250,000 a week playing for Chelsea, prostituted himself for $15,000 to give private tours around the Chelsea training facilities. In this case, Terry’s legal attempts to prevent publication of the story revealed that he probably bought the silence of his former mistress.
The problem is that all of this off-field tedium is mirrored by his on-field ability. Terry is an adequate Premier League center-back. His is a game of strength and positioning, never quickness, either in wits or feet. He all too often has to resort to “the professional foul,” taking a man to the ground who would have otherwise beaten him through cleverness or pace.