“John Terry’s career has been defined by courage, commitment and . . . controversy.” That was the verdict of an earnest BBC reporter with airtime to fill but not much in the way of new information about the latest drama to engulf the Chelsea captain. On the eve of his FA disciplinary hearing on a charge of racism, Terry announced last night that he was quitting the England team with “a broken heart”.
It was all a world away from the cosy Sunday evening fare usually provided by the likes of Downton Abbey. But in terms of narrative incoherence, unintentional humour and a total lack of character development, perhaps the John Terry Story could have come from the pen of Julian Fellowes.
Of course the BBC tactfully omitted to mention that it was John Terry’s use of a four-letter C-word that may end up defining his topsy-turvy career as football’s Man You Love to Hate. But an unwritten law only allows that word to be used by BBC presenters when discussing the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
I don’t want to downplay the importance of eradicating racist language and behaviour from football, sport and society as a whole. But Terry’s dispute with QPR’s Anton Ferdinand has always struck me as a playground spat between a couple of numbskulls rather than racism per se. That’s just my opinion, though, so do feel free to go on Twitter and abuse me if you disagree. (Just kidding.)
Sadly, John Terry’s attempt to present himself as the victim of an FA witch hunt has gone down about as well as Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s recent apology for raising tuition fees. Terry thought his acquittal on criminal charges back in July should have been the end of the matter, but those sages at the FA have to see the bigger picture.
So now we have another C-word to throw at the Chelsea captain — capitulation. Some believe that he’s chosen to call time on his England career rather than lose his place if this disciplinary hearing goes against him. Come to think of it, we could probably review a decade’s worth of headlines on John Terry — “Captain, Leader, Legend” — without getting much further than the third letter of the alphabet.