Written by Matt Scrafton
A year after being theatrically stripped of his England armband amidst a stormy cloud of vicious tabloid allegations, Chelsea defender John Terry will once again lead out Fabio Capello's men as captain when England face Wales in their first Euro 2012 Qualifier. As a result of Rio Ferdinand's prolonged spell of absence on the sidelines with injury, it appears Capello's decision to reinstate Terry is not just a stop gap until he returns, but seems more than likely that this will be a permanent appointment. A decision that has predictably been met with criticism from all corners.
Firstly, I think it's important to study the way Terry was first stripped of his captaincy and just why it came about so publicly. Prior to England's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, manager Fabio Capello felt it necessary to 'award' Steven Gerrard the captaincy, following Terry's alleged misdemeanors. Terry had supposedly been involved with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend, although these are allegations that are currently being denied by the woman in question, and are subject of litigation. In order to maintain the team spirit within the camp, Terry was demoted to a mere peasant amongst the flock of England's average XI, with Gerrard taking the reigns and 'leading' England to a disappointing Second Round exit at the hands of a stunningly superior young German side.
With that in mind, just what is so special about this supposedly sacred piece of cloth? It's not like in cricket, where the captain has several roles to play and is clearly the most influentially important individual within the starting line up. In football, the captain's only official responsibilities are; to take part in the coin toss, a demanding task if I've ever seen one (well, this is England players we're talking about, after all); and picking up the trophy when a team wins a trophy. Which let's be honest, isn't a required talent of an England 'skipper...
In addition, contrary to common misconception, captains have no special authority over their team mates when it comes to challenging a decision made by a referee. Referees will sometimes call over and converse with each sides captain, but only in specific circumstances when questioning their side's general behaviour. So, all in all a captain doesn't have to do that much at all. To make it clear, I'm not completely demeaning the role of a football captain; they still have an effect on their team mates and can prove to be of great assistance in terms of leadership and proving a good example to your team-mates. But as important a role as the media will have you believe? No, I don't think so.
|Ferdinand succeeded Terry as England captain|
This issue has been brought to a head by Rio Ferdinand's ongoing back problems, that don't look likely to defuse any time soon. So who else could Capello have given the armband to? Gerrard? Lampard? Maybe even Rooney? In all honesty, none of them are especially 'good' captains - they don't bring anything special to the plate that Terry already doesn't, especially Lampard who's been in the same Chelsea side that has been led by Terry for the last 6 or 7 seasons. As badly as Capello has mismanaged this situation, something that can't be denied, John Terry is the stand-out leader in the England camp. It's evidently visible to notice Terry's influence within the Chelsea dressing room, especially under Jose Mourinho's helm at Stamford Bridge where the London born defender excelled and led his club to a number of trophies. And then under Avram Grant's stint with Chelsea, there were several rumours that emerged suggesting that, as the now West Ham boss began to lose control over the dressing room, Terry would often take matters into his own hands and lead the team talks in the dressing room before and at half time of their games. Terry is a figure that demands respect, and in the main, he receives it. Whatever personal issues certain England team-mates might have with him, and I'm sure there's plenty of them, I doubt there's many of them daft enough to question Terry's significant superiority in terms of leadership abilities and the manner in which he organises the team. To regrettably quote the former England manager Steve McClaren, Terry is "a natural leader".
And to those who question John Terry's apparently 'loose' morals, I can diffuse that argument pretty swiftly and effectively. If we were awarding the captain's armband to the individual within the England camp that had the least allegations and scandals to their name, well we wouldn't be left with many candidates would we? Let's be honest, JT is an appropriate leader for the England national team, they're a perfect match for one another.