Early Doors

John Terry: Always the victim

Early Doors

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John Terry leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court

"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."

That's right, John. It's the FA's fault. It is they who have made your position untenable. Not you. They are to blame for your retirement from the England team.

Blame the FA for carrying out an inquiry into the serious claim that you - when England captain - racially abused another footballer.

It's true, you were cleared in a court of law.

You were cleared by Senior District Judge Howard Riddle, who said: "Mr Terry's explanation is, certainly under the cold light of forensic examination, unlikely."

Judge Riddle said the lack of compelling evidence meant your claim you were not insulting Anton Ferdinand remained "possible" - there was reasonable doubt. But if you think the 'not guilty' verdict amounted to a glowing endorsement of you and your character you simply weren't paying attention.

You admit to using the words 'f****** black c***' on a football pitch, but dispute the context of the remark. Talking of eradicating doubt - how about removing all suspicion of racism by keeping such toxic phrases out of your mouth?

But you're right. Westminster Magistrates' Court cleared you.

You seem to think the FA should have dropped its investigation at that point. But, with all due respect, John, if you truly believe that you are an idiot. And you have struck Early Doors as many things, but never an idiot.

As you know, the FA operates a lower burden of proof - it uses the balance of probability to reach its verdicts. What's more, it has a clear obligation to investigate fully when the captain of the England team is accused of racially abusing an opponent. You must realise this.

Of course, this is not the first time you have found yourself under fire.

You may have seen an article in The Times last October by Matthew Syed, in which he concluded you were either the most misunderstood man in Britain, or... well, not.

Syed cited too many incidents to repeat here, but you may wish to refresh your memory by reading the article here.

Certainly, for a man deemed a natural leader on the pitch, communicating clearly and taking responsibility off it do not seem to come easily to you.

In 2006 you were appointed England captain. You described it as a "once in a lifetime opportunity", little realising how hilariously wrong you were.

In 2010 Fabio Capello removed the armband amid a storm of media speculation about your private life. You later said: "I accepted their decision. But it doesn't mean to say I agreed with it and I never will."

You undermined Capello during England's miserable World Cup campaign with that ludicrous 'mutiny' press conference, yet the following year the Italian made you captain again. He said you had been punished long enough. That surprised those of us who thought you lost the armband not as a 'punishment', but because you had shown yourself to be an unsuitable captain.

In February you lost the captaincy again after police charged you over the Anton Ferdinand incident.

That was not the end of you - it was the end of Capello, who refused to accept the FA's decision. It was also the end of Rio Ferdinand.

The new manager, Roy Hodgson, also showed faith, taking you to Euro 2012 when many deemed you a spent force and an unnecessary distraction in the England set-up. You rewarded Hodgson by playing superbly in Ukraine.

This may be why, for much of your career, you appeared to be made of teflon. For all your failings, you were very good at football. And it is unrealistic to heap intense pressure for results on England managers, then expect them to take a principled stand by leaving out their best defender.

It has often been said that the mud has never stuck to you. But look at the papers today. Look at the reaction of the fans. You were one of the longest-serving England captains. You served your country with distinction for a decade. And yet few mourn your departure, even though it makes our team worse.

To many, you became an awkward embarrassment. A reason to temper our support of the national team. How we would have cringed to see you with lift the European Championship trophy just days before going on trial (luckily, that was never a realistic option). Now you have gone, it is hard to feel anything but relief.

You still have Chelsea. There, the fans hold you in almost universally high esteem. The club has backed you throughout the Ferdinand saga. The fans chant your name with pride and enthusiasm. At Stamford Bridge, there will only ever be one England captain.

They didn't even mind when you got sent off in a Champions League semi-final. They didn't care that you brazenly told a pitch-side reporter you did nothing wrong, in clear contradiction of the video replays. They didn't even mind, when the rest of the team miraculously won the Champions League without you, that you got into your kit, smeared grass stains on your knees and lifted the cup. Who needs dignity when you've got silverware?

Sadly, John, your England career ends with neither.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Patrice Evra: "The most important thing today was respect. It was a game between two big clubs. There was a big tragedy. People were talking about a handshake but the stories of the clubs is bigger than that. If I hadn't shaken Suarez's hand, I would not be respecting the stories of the clubs. In the end I am glad this time he shook my hand. More importantly, it was important to respect the families. It was not an easy day."

FOREIGN VIEW: Real Madrid's La Liga match at city rivals Rayo Vallecano was postponed until Monday evening in bizarre circumstances after Rayo officials said the lighting at their Estadio de Vallecas stadium had been sabotaged.

Rayo president Raul Martin Presa said unidentified persons had cut the cables on some of the lights and when it became clear they could not be repaired in time the game was abandoned.

"There were a huge number of fans waiting and we ask their forgiveness but we hope they understand that these are circumstances beyond the club's control," he said.

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