The S – Word

Soccer’s JT makes the Maui News
February 9, 2010, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Football in Hawaii, World Cup 2010 | Tags: , , ,

When I saw a column about the England captaincy running in the Maui News this week, I knew it must be a big story. Not famed for its soccer coverage, even our local paper told the tale of John Terry’s recent ‘away days’ and subsequent demotion as England captain.

For those of you not in the know – John Terry has a reputation that stretches beyond the confines of the football pitch. Like many footballers before him he has an eye for the ladies and has openly admitted to cheating on his wife, Toni Poole, at least eight times before they were married in 2007 (imagine the count of the ones he hasn’t admitted to!).

Footballers + kiss and tell stories = everyday tabloid fodder, but the column inches devoted to Terry’s latest misdemeanours are even more lurid than most.

Earlier this month Mr Justice Tugendhat, a high court judge, lifted an injunction which had been preventing details of an affair between Terry and the ex-girlfriend of his friend and England team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry, 29, is said to have started the extra marital affair with Vanessa Perroncel, mother of Bridge’s child, while Bridge played for Chelsea and the pair were neighbours in Oxshott, Surrey.

All smiles at England training. Little did they know...

Bridge is said to be “in bits” about the affair, while Poole has  retreated to Dubai with Terry’s children – three year-old twins Georgie John and Summer Rose.

Okay, so it’s not the first time a player has had an affair and it certainly won’t be the last but seriously, of all the women to choose – why would you do it with a team-mates girlfriend? Ex or otherwise…?

I have never been Terry’s biggest fan. Perhaps as a Manchester United fan it goes with the territory, but I did meet him once, about four years ago when I interviewed him for a radio show. I actually found him to be a nice guy – very agreeable and polite – quite the opposite to what I had expected. We had an amusing conversation about the merits of horseradish sauce and yorkshire pudding (Not part of the interview, I hasten to add) and I was slightly taken aback by the woollen jumper he was wearing – it had knitted deer on it. No, seriously, it did. But I came away from it thinking he was a nice fella. That dissipated over the years, I must admit, especially whenever United faced Chelsea…

Anyway – quite rightly (in my view) Terry was stripped of the England captaincy this week. Fabio Capello, the England manager, lived up to his own reputation as a strict disciplinarian and told Terry the armband was no longer his, following a 12 minute meeting at Wembley.

Capello said: “After much thought I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry.”

“As a captain with the team, Terry has displayed extremely positive behaviour. However, I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad. What is best for all of the England team has inspired my choice and Terry was notified first.”

Before the news of Terry’s demotion came to light I was wondering who would be a natural replacement as captain and it was quite alarming to think about how slim the pickings are.

There may be many natural leaders on the pitch – Terry, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, even Wayne Rooney, but honestly  – when it comes to role models the cupboard is bare. Terry – see above, Gerrard – in court recently for assault, Rio – we all know about his infamous ‘missed’ drugs test, Rooney – lewd tales of aging prostitutes. I’m not even going to start on Ashley Cole…

Even David Beckham. Becks, ‘Golden Balls’ oh how we all love him and how the sponsors love him, but even he has been embroiled in kiss and tells. Perhaps unfounded allegations, but who knows…

Role model or not, Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand will be our new captain, with Gerrard as deputy. Rio has done a good job as United captain, when injury doesn’t keep him on the sidelines, and hopefully he can command the national team with responsibility and vigour as they head to South Africa in June. And hopefully he can keep peace in the dressing room – it would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall when Bridge and Terry next meet.

I’ll be back soon, with a look at one of the most interesting football books I have ever come across. Until then, thanks for reading!