Terry precedent will blow up in Capello's face
All's fair in love and war but not, it seems, if it affects a team-mate, says Richard Sadlier
H e's had his brushes with the law, and appeared to spit at a player in the 2008 Champions League final. He was recently involved in £10,000 changing hands for private tours of his club's training ground, and has been the subject of numerous kiss-and-tell stories despite being with his partner since he was 17. Further allegations surfaced last week claiming his executive box was available for hire at Wembley Stadium.
On Friday, in a 12-minute meeting with Fabio Capello, time finally caught up with John Terry.
While it wouldn't exactly come as a galloping shock to anyone to learn there are girls out there who have had sex with more than one footballer, the revelation that one player slept with the ex-girlfriend of another has appalled everyone (that he had a wife at the time appears to be almost incidental). While it isn't the first time such a course of action has been taken anywhere, I saw for myself how disruptive it can be when it involves people from the same dressing room.
One lad I played with found incriminating text messages on a team-mate's phone involving his own wife. Up to that point, they had been close friends. From then on, that player was forced to change in the staff dressing room upstairs for his own safety, as he was regularly attacked by his former friend when their paths crossed at the training ground. But for an injury to one of them at the time, I'm sure squad sessions would have been disrupted on a daily basis. The apprentices brought him up his lunch each day as he could not eat with us at all, and only when the other player involved had left the building was he allowed down to receive treatment from the physio.
None of us spoke to the player in case it looked like we were condoning what had happened or were taking sides, and despite the manager's advice to leave for the good of everyone, the player remained at the club. The PFA were called in to protect him, but the manager's view was that it could only be sorted out between those directly involved and made no further comment on the issue. There was never an issue before or since which led to such a fall-out.
John Terry is very much the man of the moment and it seems monogamy has never been part of his make-up. This was known before he was made captain of Chelsea and it was known well before he was named captain of England, as it appears he has an unnerving ability to seek out those who wish to sell their story. Though the impact his alleged affair has had on his relationship with the England squad (excluding Bridge for the moment) is not yet known, there are quite a few who reside in glasshouses of their own so I wouldn't expect to see public statements of condemnation from many of them. In any case, the presence of Terry in South Africa, whether as captain or not, greatly increases their chances of success, so all will hope it becomes a non-issue very soon.
In making this decision, the England manager has set a precedent which you'd have to assume will blow up in his face time and time again in the future.
The reports of offers in excess of £250,000 for the girl in this case to tell her story go a long way towards explaining why footballers are so keenly sought after. Following the PFA awards ceremony one year, I attended one of the after-parties in a nearby nightclub and observed as one world-famous Premiership player had hordes of women surround him and follow him wherever he went. He could have picked any of them -- or any number of them -- as he left at the end of the night.
Regardless of the relatively swift action taken by Capello, the involvement of Max Clifford presumably means this story will run for some time. Whether the Stamford Bridge dressing room has been affected is anyone's guess, but rumours Terry was not alone in following in Bridge's footsteps would suggest it won't have the slightest impact at all.
The meeting of Manchester City and Chelsea in three weeks will have an added dimension alright, but the atmosphere in the England squad before next month's friendly with Egypt may indicate whether their World Cup ambitions have been dented at all.
However Wayne Bridge feels about Capello's decision, his return to the Manchester City side yesterday was perfectly timed, for he can now concentrate on doing what he does best, for which he earns a reported £100,000 a week. Am I alone in thinking that's the most shocking revelation of all?