Perhaps for the first time in his much documented career, John Terry has enjoyed the media’s harsh glare being directed elsewhere. Although it has, unfortunately, found itself on the England manager – yet again – it’s something that the Chelsea skipper has been able to benefit from since retiring from international duty last year. A subject recently brought back up by his manager José Mourinho. For the time that he has favoured public negligence for what he is up to off the pitch as much as on it, the narrative has changed, but his performances remain invaluable to his club.
Mourinho said that his captain’s decision to walk away from the England team, almost three months after England bowed out of Euro 2012 to Italy on penalties, was a ‘hasty’ one. “If I was a football player I would wait for the national team to say we don’t need you anymore. That is just my personal feeling. For sure he has reasons that push him for that decision.
“He is recovering his self-esteem, recovering the feeling of being an important player for the team which he lost.” he said. “The reasons that pushed him to international retirement are out of my control.”
The Portuguese coach understands that the situation is still a delicate one, albeit his last – probably ever – game for the Three Lions was only 13 months ago. Patience remains a key ingredient in the rebuilding of Terry’s mental strength, an element of his that has taken a beating over the last 18 months, amid a host of allegations and staunch scrutiny paid towards his off-field behaviour.
Around this time in April last year, roughly 18 months ago, John Terry was given a suspension by UEFA for his off-the-ball incident involving Barcelona’s Alexis Sánchez. Invariably he would miss his club’s Champions League final meeting with Bayern München in spite of key players missing through injury or suspension. Chelsea eventually won that match on penalties at the Allianz Arena Munich, and the rest remains history.
He would partake in England’s European Championships campaign in 2012 held in Poland and Ukraine with a court case thereafter, to which he would be faced with a four-match suspension, much to public furore. While Chelsea carried out punishment towards him themselves, it didn’t stop condemnation of both. Terry for not apologising personally to Anton Ferdinand, and Chelsea for not completely stripping him of captaincy. Abhorrence for both parties was visible nationally, for wherever Terry went away from home with the Blues, he would face booing from opposition fans every time he touched the ball.
And it does still happen, on occasion. It may not even stop until he hangs it up for good. But his supporters have remained defiant above anything, loyal to a captain that has served them since firmly establishing himself in the side back in 2001/02. The times that he has played in front of them this season, there probably has been the recognisable banner of “Captain, Leader, Legend,” unfurled across the upper decks the Matthew Harding Stand. Since Mourinho’s return, the 32-year-old has started in every league game, 7 from 11 in total, and interchanged partnerships with David Luiz and Gary Cahill, remaining a consistent performer altogether.
Even more so with the backing of his manager, which began when the former Real Madrid boss penned a new four-year contract at the club where he enjoyed three successful years, reigning two back-to-back league titles. Back in June, he said: “John is the club captain. I am more than happy with that, so are the fans, so I think he has to be the club captain.”
As for England, Roy Hodgson was just as cautious. Given that England have only just qualified for the World Cup next year, awakening the situation of bringing Blues captain out of retirement would be an unnecessary issue to rock serious preparations. Particularly after the allegations of Hodgson being racist himself, which he wasn’t.
Hodgson earlier told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I like John Terry, he did a fantastic job for me at the Euros. But it’s not the moment to start resurrecting that.” And quite rightly.