The back page of the Sunday Mirror screams ‘Terry’s U-turn; Chelsea star eyes England return’. Reporter Dave Kidd explains in his exclusive story:
"John Terry is considering a shock international return. The Chelsea skipper, 33, is poised to make himself available for England’s friendly with Denmark in March. Terry, the Three Lions' former captain, is said to be tempted to put himself up for selection in an attempt to make Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad."
On a purely sporting basis this makes perfect sense. Terry has started every single Premier League game for the side currently top of the table, crediting a rejuvenating discussion with Jose Mourinho during pre-season for resurrecting his Chelsea career after Rafa Benitez began to take steps to phase him out.
Dominant in the air and drawing on his vast experience to read the game to near perfection this season, Terry is also an accomplished passer of the ball. There are few who would claim with a straight face that he is not better than Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka, who look assured of being England’s first-choice pairing at the back next season.
But as always with Terry, this case cannot and should not be judged on a sporting basis.
Lest we forget, Terry retired from international football in a huff in September 2012 when it became obvious that the Football Association would shortly find him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, despite being cleared of a criminal charge.
Terry was found guilty by the FA of calling Ferdinand a “f****** black c***” – just about the most vile sentence you could imagine being uttered on a field of play, or anywhere else. Let that sink in for a second, Terry called another man a “f****** black c***”.
If one unnamed member of the England squad was sufficiently offended by a clumsy NASA analogy from Roy Hodgson to leak it to the press, one wonders what they would make of the return of a man who has uttered such disgusting racial abuse.
This, of course, is not the only baggage that Terry brings with him international arena. Wayne Bridge retired from international football as a result of alleged extra-marital affairs while Terry memorably attempted a minor insurrection against Fabio Capello at the previous World Cup which left him humbled and embarrassed.
At Chelsea he may be known as captain, leader, legend, but with England he is just a troublemaker.
Just as Luis Suarez appears to have rehabilitated his reputation – purely by scoring lots of goals and attending a fans' award show - in the eyes of those who are far too quick to forget he has never apologised for repeatedly racially abusing Patrice Evra, now we are told that Terry, too, should be forgiven. That we should move on and welcome him back to the England team.
Only last week Stan Collymore wrote in the Mirror that Terry had “paid his dues” and deserved a return. This column humbly disagrees. Terry leaves a bad smell in the international dressing room and the country are better off without him, even if he is very good at tackling and heading.
At international level, sporting ability should not be the be all and end all. These players are being picked to represent their country – a multicultural country with a pretension of being anti-discriminatory.
Still, the Hairdryer would not be surprised if Hodgson was keen on a return for Terry. After all, in August 15 he inexcusably said he hoped the FA would find the defender not guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand so he would be able to play.
"I'm hoping, and I make no secret of that, the case will take its course, that John, hopefully, will be freed as he was freed in a court of law, and will carry on playing for England.”
So much for justice being served, eh? That, in case you missed it, was the manager of England expressing publicly his hope that Terry would get off and Ferdinand's case would be thrown out.
Hodgson also famously selected Terry for Euro 2012 and did not pick Rio Ferdinand for "footballing reasons". He has been nothing if not loyal to the Chelsea skipper.
In November, though, Hodgson was rather more blunt about the chances of a Terry recall, telling the press:
"John retired a long time ago, right at the start of our qualifying campaign. We have played nine games without him. We have qualified without losing a game. I think Cahill and Phil Jagielka have done a good job at centre-back. Chris Smalling showed [against Germany] he is a very good centre-back in the making. Phil Jones is there as well. It is time to keep moving forward rather than turning back."
One hopes Hodgson stays true to his word. There is no room for the poisonous Terry in the England party travelling to Brazil.
Tom Adams | Follow on Twitter
- Sports & Recreation
- John Terry
- Roy Hodgson
- Anton Ferdinand