Terry: unapologetic, emotional and defiant
With no remorse and no regrets, John Terry reassumed the captaincy of the England team yesterday with a sense of defiance intended to say clearly that, although he was back in the job, that did not mean he was about to say sorry.
Having been caught in a scandal as fierce as that which engulfed Terry 13 months ago, others might have chosen this moment to admit to a few errors of judgement. But the defender is a tough customer. He was self-deprecating, light-hearted and even emotional about being given back the captaincy. What he was not, was apologetic.
On Saturday, at the age of 30, he will lead out England for their Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales in his third stint as England captain under two different managers. Few current players have attracted more controversy in their careers. A younger Terry might have found himself admitting to a few faults of his own, but those days are long gone.
We are no closer to knowing what really happened between Terry, Wayne Bridge and Bridge's former fiancee Vanessa Perroncel, although Terry made reference to certain "facts" of which he said his critics were not aware. He has always denied that he had a relationship with Perroncel -- the key to the scandal that grew so large, Fabio Capello felt he had not option but to reassign the captaincy in February last year.
"As we get older, we live and learn. We move on," Terry said. "As a man, as a player, we can see I've moved on, on and off the field. I concentrate on doing the right thing, playing well for Chelsea and my country. I feel I've done that."
As for his relationship with his team-mates, and the persistent suggestions that he is an unpopular captain, Terry simply said that they had their opportunity to object to his reappointment and not one of them said a word.
On Capello's decision to take the captaincy away from him, Terry was not for budging. "I didn't agree with the decision (to sack him), which I told them face-to-face, but I said I respected the decision and I'll continue to work hard," Terry said. "I could understand it a little bit, but once they spoke to me -- and once again it's difficult for legal reasons to go into detail -- I just felt I didn't deserve to lose the armband."
Terry did not expand on those legal reasons that restricted him from saying more. But what was not in doubt was that this must be a man who is extremely confident of his position. To the extent that he must be sure that there are no skeletons in the cupboard that could emerge to embarrass him again.
It was not just the Perroncel saga that opened up the cracks in Terry's captaincy under Capello, there was also that ill-judged email in November 2009 touting to potential clients the endorsement of the England captain, sent by a PR company from Enfield. Terry denied any involvement. "I never tried to cash in on anything," he said. "There was an issue with the statement (email) that went out initially, that had nothing to do with me. It was a company that didn't represent me. I've never cashed in"
Watching Terry yesterday, the thought occurred that it must be this aspect of his character that Capello admires enough to go through the inexplicable upheaval of reappointing him. Terry may not be, in his own words, "everyone's cup of tea," but he knows that football tends to reward those who do not wilt under the pressure.
He was unrepentant about his outspoken criticism of Capello after the 0-0 draw with Algeria during last summer's turgid World Cup. "I just wouldn't come out publicly and say what I said," Terry said. "It would stay in-house. That's what I learned from that.
"I didn't want to go home from the World Cup early. I thought we had a real chance with the squad we had. It was our time. People were peaking in their careers. English teams had had a good time in Europe for four or five years and gained a lot of top-level experience. I thought that would bode well for that tournament. I wasn't prepared to sit back and accept that. Looking back, certain things I shouldn't have said, but I can still hold my head up high."
He would not be drawn on the criticism of him from Craig Bellamy -- whom he will face on Saturday -- and the one moment of genuine awkwardness only arrived when he was asked about Bridge and whether there was the possibility of rekindling that friendship. Only then did Terry drop any pretence at charm and answer tersely: 'No'. (© Independent News Service)