Belfast Telegraph

John Terry thought it was all over... it is now

By Steven Beacom

Wonders will never cease. Roy Hodgson has stood up and been counted.

England might just do alright in the World Cup finals after all. If the manager continues to show the courage of his convictions and it transcends to his players, they could even win a penalty shoot-out in Brazil!

Forgive me, maybe that's just the state of shock talking because I'm stunned to find myself agreeing with the current England manager.

That comes around as often as a game in which Cristiano Ronaldo fails to score.

Yesterday Hodgson said he would not be taking John Terry to the World Cup, despite coming under mounting pressure to do so.

Fair play.

You may recall that Terry was stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association in February 2012 before criminal proceedings began into his altercation with Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's clash with QPR at Loftus Road in October 2011.

The then England manager Fabio Capello was furious with that decision and left the job shortly afterwards.

Hodgson inherited a right mess. He decided to take Terry with him to the Euro 2012 finals, leaving Anton's brother Rio behind. The Chelsea star played in every game.

Four months later Terry retired from international football just before the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, who had been cleared in court of committing any criminal offence, said the FA's decision to pursue charges against him meant his position was 'untenable' and called it quits having played 78 times for his country.

The timing from Terry didn't help Hodgson but England got on with their World Cup qualifying campaign without him and although there were a few hairy moments, they made it to Brazil.

Nobody was calling for Terry to return then. With the Chelsea skipper in such excellent form over the last few months, however, there has been a growing feeling amongst commentators and pundits in England that Hodgson should go cap in hand and ask JT to help the team out in South America.

Whether 33-year-old Terry would have said yes remains to be seen, but I reckon being the hero on a white charger riding to England's rescue would have appealed.

I'm glad to say Roy has not been bullied.

Yesterday Hodgson said: "John has retired and as far as I am concerned that is the situation. We have got along without him for the whole of the qualification and a few friendly matches as well so we will have to get along without him in the future."

Quite right too.

I have a problem with players who retire from international football and then decide to return when it suits, like ex-Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher. He quit England in 2007 then came back to play in a World Cup under Capello in 2010.

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster has done the same. In May 2011 he announced that he would not be available for international selection because he wanted to prolong his club career, yet in February 2013 the same bloke declared he was ready to play for England again and did so a few months later, under Hodgson, against the Republic of Ireland.

When Roy is being so bullish about Terry, he should ditch Foster as well.

Yes, of course teams need their best players, but commitment to the cause is even more important.

You are supposed to be picked for your country to play international sport.

You aren't supposed to pick when you want to play for your country.

It's been a problem for Northern Ireland down the years when players have opted to play in one game (normally a glamour fixture at Windsor Park shown live on television with the opportunity to swap shirts with a world class star) and not another (usually an away game against nondescript opposition).

Isn't it funny how the injuries that keep them out of the matches against lesser lights clear up by the time they are due to play for their clubs days later?

Northern Ireland managers have so few players to choose from that the players tend to win most of the battles.

If only all of them were like the aforementioned Cristiano Ronaldo.

And not just in terms of ability either, but in character and love and desire for their country, that no matter the opposition, no matter the location, no matter the competition, they turn up and deliver the best that they can do.

The night at Windsor Park when Ronaldo scored a spectacular hat-trick in Portugal's comeback win over Northern Ireland the Real Madrid icon was carrying a knock that would have kept many others out.

It's fantastic that Ronaldo will be at the World Cup in Brazil. Having inspired Portugal to make the finals he deserves to be there.

John Terry does not.

Belfast Telegraph


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