John Terry and the death of the old fashioned English centre back


John Terry is, to put it lightly, a bit of a twerp. He may have captained both England and Chelsea but he also slept with his team mate’s ex-girlfriend. He may have been the best English centre back ever but he also slept with his team mate’s ex-girlfriend. He may have won every major competition there is to win with Chelsea but he also slept with his team mate’s ex-girlfriend.

Despite the tone of that introduction, this purpose of this article is not to slate, so the anti-Terry brigade can turn back now. As James Cordon once said, albeit during a sketch, John Terry is the last bastion of the old fashioned English centre back and you would be hard pushed to find somebody that disagrees. I can’t name any of his English predecessors that have been as consistent and dominant as him and while I’m a fan of Jones, Jagielka, Lescott et al, you would have be a pretty one-eyed fan to think that any of these candidates can adequately replace him.

Opinion will be polarised here but I’ve always been of the belief that a footballer’s off field antics should not affect their professional reputation. It is the reason why I’d happily sign up Luis Suarez even though he is a proven racist and it is the reason why I have continued to enjoy watching Ryan Giggs play for Man Utd even though he fornicated with his brother’s wife. What people seem to forget is that while it is true that John Terry would win the prize for being England’s biggest twerp (Ashley Cole is a close second), he would also have won the award for being the bravest. This is a man who literally put his neck on the line for his country when he swooped in head-first to attempt to block a Slovenian shot at the World Cup in 2010 (which you can see here).

He is, by a country mile, the proudest man to pull on a England jersey since, or maybe even before, the rock that was Terry Butcher with the bandage around his head.

Opinion will also be polarised once more when I say this, but I do not believe he is a racist. Feel free to disagree but I believe what he did was no different to any other white man saying the N word whilst rapping along to a Jay-Z song. He was simply quoting something by somebody else and, after extensive research on the saga (I’m currently doing a dissertation on racism in football), I genuinely believe that he meant no harm during that infamous game against QPR and was merely clarifying to Anton Ferdinand that he did not say the words that Terry thought he had been accused of.

Don’t get me wrong though, what he did to Wayne Bridge while the two still shared a dressing room is inexcusable and that is why he will always be a twerp. All I’m saying here is that if a twerp is going to play for England, I would rather it be a twerp that is committed to the cause, a twerp that wears his heart on his sleeve, a twerp that can can lift his team when all seems lost and still manage to snatch victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat (such as against Barcelona last season). He’s retired from international football now so we’ll have to settle for the Jagielka-Lescott partnership and hope against hope that it becomes at least half as solid as the Terry-Ferdinand pairing of the last 7 years or so. In the mean time, we should all stop trying to find sticks to beat Terry with and respect a man who may be a bad person but has also had a lot of bad luck. He has served his country nobly and for that, if nothing else, he should be remembered fondly.

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