Let's Nip The Terry Issue In The Bud, Shall We?

The 'debate' about whether John Terry should return to the England side has already started. Nick Miller would like to stop it right now. Or at least until the end of this article...

Last Updated: 06/02/14 at 09:18 Post Comment

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It's started.

Gary Lineker suggested it on Twitter. The BBC website ran a feature dedicated to it this week. Salomon Kalou felt the need to suggest it last week. The Daily Mirror ran a story in January claiming it would happen, then another story this week saying it definitely wouldn't. There will be assorted columns in most national newspapers between now and the summer. The man himself will be asked every time he arranges himself in front of a microphone for the next four months.

It has already started, so let's head this one off at the pass now, shall we?

John Terry will not, and should not be in the England squad for the World Cup this summer.

Of course, Terry's form has returned this season. He has played every minute of every league game after last year's occasional forays off the bench under Rafa Benitez, providing the defensive solidity that has been the basis for the Blues' title challenge. Terry's contract expires in the summer, and it would be a mistake if they didn't give him at least another year, because he is still a part of a successful Chelsea side.

However, this doesn't mean that Roy Hodgson should do something as undignified as beg Terry to return to the England team. For one thing, Terry retired from international football in September 2012, the reasons for which we will come to shortly. He has shown no inclination to return to the England team, and indeed one might partly attribute the lack of international duties for his form and fitness.

Since he retired, England have qualified for the World Cup with the joint-best defensive record in Europe, and while you might get nervous about the prospect of Luis Suarez dancing around Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, it would be unfair at best to drop the players that got England to Brazil in favour of a bigger name. It would be a little like an actor in a successful play beaten to the role in the film adaptation by a Hollywood star.

Terry might not even want to come back. It's possible that he has moved on, and is perfectly happy just being Chelsea's captain, leader, legend. And if there's one thing less dignified than begging a man to come back from international retirement, it's begging him and being turned down.

Indeed, Hodgson said when asked about Terry in May last year: "It's time for me to get behind the players who will be the ones to take us to Brazil. John did call me when the stories broke (about Rio Ferdinand's international retirement) and my understanding is that he is in line with Rio and he is actually in retirement."

Would Terry even improve England's defence? Probably a little, but it's well to remember that Chelsea's fine defensive record also has a lot to do with Petr Cech (and, for that matter, Gary Cahill). Joe Hart might be returning to some sort of form, but he is not Cech. To justify all of the above, it would require a player who could improve Hodgson's side enough to actually have a shot at winning the World Cup, and Terry is not that man.

England don't even need Terry as a captain. Even if you think the role of a skipper in football is important (and at the very most it's ephemeral), England already have a perfectly decent captain in Steven Gerrard. Would Terry's 'leadership' skills improve England significantly? Almost certainly not.

And then there's the moral aspect. Terry stepped down from the England side because he was about to be banned by the FA for using racially abusive language. Hodgson selected him for Euro 2012 on the basis that he was awaiting trial, and could thus justify his choice with the 'innocent until proven guilty' defence. Whether that was a sound defence is up for debate, but it is no longer applicable.

It is simply not possible or acceptable for a man to represent a country whose governing body has banned him for racist abuse. If nothing else, it would make it virtually impossible for anyone associated with the England team to lecture or indeed protest against any of the moral aspects of upcoming tournaments in Russia or Qatar.

So let's save ourselves a lot of time and energy and just stop talking about it now, shall we? Well, as soon as you've finished reading this article, at least.

Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter

Best English centre half by a distance. The real question is, why would he want to come back? The break from international football will put 2 or 3 years on the end of his career.
- paulw66

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