Friday, February 5, 2010

England Dumps Cap'n Terry

Does the identity of a national team captain matter? Can argue this either way, and I will do that now.

In practice, a captain doesn't do much. The guy wearing the armband gets to yak at referees a bit longer before a yellow card is shown. He leads the First XI when it steps out onto the pitch. He might make a few more media appearances.

But, then ... sometimes a captain is a sort of global shorthand for what your team is about. Big or fast. Cagey or slick. Inspirational or experienced. The guy with the armband ... is supposed to reflect what is best about your team.

And that is why England coach Fabio Capello stripped John Terry of his captaincy today. Because Terry had reached a point where he was an embarrassment to English soccer rather than an inspiration.

Terry had some rough patches before. When he got caught in a sting by a newspaper for taking money to allow a tour of Chelsea's training grounds. When his mother was caught shoplifting and his father trying to sell illegal drugs.

But what made him ex-captain was the sex scandal he is caught up in.

It appears that Terry had an affair with the girlfriend of a former England and Chelsea teammate, Wayne Bridge. Who might end up at South Africa 2010. With Terry and England.

Bridge is not happy that he lost his girlfriend, Vanessa Perroncel, a French model, to the blandishments of Terry, and apparently is not interested in playing on the same team with him. And then there is the sort of cloud of "he's the kind of guy who will steal your girlfriend" thing, and that's not something you do to one of your "bros."

And, too, you don't want the world to see your team march into a World Cup stadium and have hundreds of millions of fans around the world say, "and their caption is the guy who stole a teammate's girlfriend."

That probably is the bigger issue. The guy who is your captain does, then, matter. He doesn't have to be a perfect angel. In fact, he might be the hardest man on your team. But he shouldn't be best known for a high-visibility personal indiscretion. And that is where John Terry is right now.

England shouldn't be damaged by this. Rio Ferdinand is the new captain, and he should do fine. A guy respected by his peers. Respect. Something John Terry no longer could command.

1 comment:

  1. Did you see Eric Wynalda talking about this very scenario on Fox Fone-In? He compared it to his own situation before France '98 when his then-wife had a relationship with then-U.S. captain John Harkes. That relationship was apparently the reason why Harkes was removed by the team by Steve Sampson.