THE announcement by John Terry of his international retirement is an unlikely land-grab for the moral high ground, yet one that could succeed.
Terry has been at the centre of one of the most embarrassing episodes for English football in recent times.
The Chelsea captain was found not guilty in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, but he was a central figure in the public exposure of a hugely unpleasant side of the game.
Yet his decision to in effect protest against the Football Association pursuing their own case against him is understandable: why should he continue to represent an organisation that appear hell-bent on nailing his hide to the wall?
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, it would stick in the craw of anyone to wear the colours of an authority who one day expect you to put your body on the line in their name, and then next who accuse you of the basest of offences.
Terry said "it breaks my heart" to make his decision, and for someone who wore his heart on his sleeve for England that is no doubt the case.
But at 31, and at a time when competition for central-defensive places becomes more intense, it may be a timely moment to concentrate on his club career.
Time's winged chariot is charging full speed ahead: the balance between the experience, commitment and attitude Terry brought to the England team and the speed, skill and youth that his replacements will bring will soon tip in his rivals' favour.
Alex Ferguson has long been an advocate of players extending their club careers by calling time on their international ones: look at Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, still going strong for Manchester United.
Who is to say the decrease in intensity would not have a similar effect on Terry in the longer term?
And of course, should Terry be found guilty by the FA's regulatory body, it would be hugely uncomfortable for all concerned for Roy Hodgson then to select him for international duty -- and he demonstrated pretty clearly before Euro 2012 that he would.