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John Terry Should Not Be England's Captain

I’m sure you’ve all heard it by now: England manager Fabio Capello named John Terry captain of the Three Lions today.

If you believe the numerous media reports, the strong favorite to be handed the armband on a permanent basis was Manchester United center back Rio Ferdinand, whose steady, and at times fantastic, play tends to greatly overshadow his off-field transgressions over the years in the minds of many England fans. I’ve already dedicated a post as to why I didn’t think Ferdinand should’ve even been considered ( for the captaincy, so I won’t go into that again. Suffice it to say that I’m glad he was passed over by Capello, but I’m disappointed that he was, in fact, named vice-captain. Ferdinand is a very good player, but he doesn’t deserve to lead out his country.

Again going by the media’s prediction, Terry was the second choice for this honor. In that same post I highlighted above, I was all for the Chelsea central defender being given another chance to skip England when Capello was still rotating the captaincy in his first few games as manager. The credentials are there — club captain, England’s official captain for 14 games (though he missed five others due to injury), PFA Player of the Year for the 2004-2005 Premiership season, inclusion in the World Cup 2006 squad of the tournament, and two-time Premiership winner at Chelsea, among others. I didn’t think then that he should be the permanent captain, but based on his past achievements on the field and his form at that particular time, I was in favor of him getting a sort of ceremonial final run-out with the armband.

Like Ferdinand, Terry has been responsible for a fair bit of controversy off the field. The day after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Terry and a couple teammates, including Frank Lampard, went on a drunken binge in a hotel filled with American tourists and made insensitive, inflammatory remarks about the tragedy in New York City, stripping naked at the scene as well. Terry was fined by Chelsea. He spent a night in jail in 2002 after his involvement in a fracas at a London nightclub which left a doorman injured, although to be fair, Terry was later cleared of all charges. He was accused of making a disparaging racial remark towards an England teammate and Tottenham player after being sent off in Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham in 2006. He parked his expensive car in a handicapped spot in the middle of March, which may not seem like too big of a deal, but it symbolizes his arrogant attitude and blatant disrespect — “I’m John Terry, I can park where I want. Why should I walk an extra two feet into the store when I can be lazy and make it easier for myself?” He is a known high-stakes gambler, and, like Wayne Rooney, has admitted to cheating on his significant other.

I understand that what a player does away from the field is his business. Still, being a captain has as much to do with your qualities as a person and your leadership ability as it does with what you bring to the game itself. Terry can motivate his teammates, he can get them up to put in a good performance. When things don’t go his or his team’s way, however, you see a petulant, juvenile side of Terry that suggests he has no business representing England as captain.

Let’s see…there’s the time Terry literally tried to grab a red card out of referee Mike Dean’s hand in a game against Manchester United last September, again showing his disrespect for authority. Or the time he publicly questioned Graham Poll’s integrity after that game against Spurs, for which he was found guilty of misconduct by the FA. And the numerous occasions in which Terry has physically accosted and intimidated referees when a big decision goes against him or Chelsea. Terry will make contact with officials, he’ll bump them, he’ll confront them, and instead of stopping his teammates when they do the same thing (which they’re known for at Chelsea), he’ll just jump in and do it himself. Remember when Ashley Cole turned his back on Mike Riley in a game against Tottenham last season? Cole had been told and signalled to come to Riley and receive his yellow card for a sliding challenge. Terry did nothing to help the situation like a captain should do.

Terry also isn’t the same player he was back when he collected those awards I mentioned earlier. He’s injury-prone now, and that’s clearly affected the way he goes about his duty at center back. He seems a bit hesitant to get stuck into a challenge. He’s still a presence in the air, but doesn’t go up for balls any more than he actually has to. In the biggest game of his life, last season’s Champions League final, he missed what would have been the trophy-winning PK in the shootout.

No, Capello made a mistake in appointing Terry as England’s captain. He had his chance in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign and didn’t get it done.

I’ve said it several times before, and I’ll say it again: Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard was the only choice for the role in my mind. He is England’s best overall player, taking into account what he does both offensively and defensively. I can’t count how many times he’s put Liverpool on his shoulders and single-handedly carried them to victory in a game they needed to have. If it wasn’t for Gerrard, there’s no way Liverpool wins the ‘04-’05 Champions League final against AC Milan or the ‘05-’06 FA Cup final against West Ham. He was responsible for those comebacks. He’s the only player to have scored in all four major finals (Carling Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup) possible for an English-based player to take part in. This guy, unlike Lampard, who couldn’t play alongside Gerrard for England because of his one-dimensional style, is a great tackler and tracks back better than any attack-minded midfielder in the world. He is a big-time player and steps it up when it matters most.

The personal recognition he’s garnered — awarded the MBE for his services to the game, three times in the UEFA Team of the Year, Champions League MVP in ‘04-’05, PFA Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year, six appearances in the PFA Team of the Year, three-time nomination for FIFA Player of the Year — and his accomplishments with Liverpool, where he’s won every major trophy except the Premiership, serve to show just how influential of a player Gerrard is. He is the heart and soul of his club and will occupy 20th place on the list of England’s most capped players (ahead of famous names like Terry, Paul Scholes, Ashley Cole, Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Paul Gascoigne, and Lampard) after tomorrow’s friendly against the Czech Republic, his 68th appearance for his country. He’s well on his way to 100, an accomplishment reached only by five players at this point in time.

He stays squeaky-clean off the field, where he’s settled down with his wife and two young daughters, aside from one minor incident that was not his fault in early October last year. You won’t find Gerrard in the headlines for anything he does outside the lines, at least not for anything negative.

It’s a shame that Gerrard wasn’t given the armband by Capello, and I’m sure it’s partly because he isn’t a center back or goalkeeper, the two most common positions for captains. That notion makes sense to me only to a certain extent. If I was a manager, I’d want my central midfielder as my captain. Everything goes through him; he’s the team’s linchpin. He’s the one who distributes the ball, he’s the one who plays a total game — attack and defense.

Gerrard was Capello’s first captain as England boss; his team beat Switzerland 2-1 in a game in which Gerrard played very well and set up the winning goal. It’s downright criminal that he wasn’t at least named vice-captain, and it doesn’t make sense that Ferdinand would be placed into that role when he isn’t even the captain of his club and England’s captain will be right next to him in the defense. Coupled with the questionable squad call-ups made for this game, I’m starting to lose a little faith in Capello in whether he can turn this England team around. If it happens with Terry and Ferdinand at the helm, I can tell you that it will be in spite of them, not because of them.

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  1. iancransonsknees

    September 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I can’t claim to have come up with this but here’s a gem off today’s Oatcake.

    “I think I’d rather see a strapping German who’d been banging my missus lift the World Cup than John f*%£ing Terry.”

    Quite succinct I’m sure you’ll agree.

    • o.c.

      September 15, 2009 at 2:25 am

      agreed, i’ll start watching england again when terry retires. he brings only shame on england, pure scum.

  2. o.c.

    September 13, 2009 at 10:25 am

    yep, gerrard is the only choice. terry isn’t any sort of captain, he stands for everything that is wrong with football, an arrogant prick. a prime example of a failed education system, an odinary player, a pathetic man and a disgrace as a captain. sir alf would have known exactly what to do with him, give him bobby moore’s boots to clean!

  3. Adam J

    August 22, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Micheal, i can call you by what ever the f*** i want, ok?

    And by the responses that you’v been getting from your articles, I would question your writing ability and football knowledge. Consider another hobby maybe?

  4. JLay

    August 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    And before anyone brings it up, “medicine” was a typo…

  5. JLay

    August 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Sure, Terry is a passionate player. But intimidation, loud yelling, and really, really wanting to win are not the qualities that define a captain. A captain knows when it’s time to light a fire and when it’s time to cool things down. He needs to keep a level head, keep his teammates under control, and present his case respectfully to the officials if he feels that his squad have been wronged.

    Terry isn’t that guy. Locker room leader or floor general, fine, but he’s not a captain. They’re not the same…

    I never said that the US were better than England – I was being sarcastic and you’re misssing my point. Neither one of our squads is winning anything major anytime soon, but England convinces itself year after year that they are one of the best sides in the world. Unfortunately, the results over the last decade prove that they absolutely don’t, and I don’t see things getting better anytime soon. If Theo Walcott is your best “up and coming” young player, you’re in even bigger trouble in a few years.

    FIFA rankings are total BS – you know that. The US were ranked #5 in March of 2006. Make sense? Of course not.

    As for saving the world, I was only giving a scouse flamer a little of his own medecine. I was trying to be sarcastic. That said, we were happy to help. =D

  6. Nick

    August 21, 2008 at 11:48 am


    “Sure, Terry can command men and give a good speech or whatever, fine, but that’s not all that being captain is about.”

    Hmm, really!?

    With regard to the Croatia game. Terry’s presence is enough to lift a team, to pick up the tempo, yeah, to ruffle some feathers. He’s in your face and a lot of the time, he ends up making the difference. In fact, he epitimises everything that is great about the english game, the bulldog spirit and passion.

    Maybe that’s what’s missing in the glitz, glamour and showbiz of the MLS.


    I just had a look at the official FIFA World Rankings. The table only shows the top 25, England are 14th. USA aren’t on there. A little bit of digging later and you’re at no.31. Well done. Also had a look at that tricky qualifying group you’re in. Is there a football pitch in Barbados?

    Oh, and thanks for saving the world.

  7. Michael

    August 21, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Did you not read my last comment? My name is Michael. Come on, Adma.

    Sure, The Sun is a tabloid, but the Daily Mail certainly isn’t. As it is, those “revelations” weren’t only brought to light in The Sun anyway, that’s the just the paper cited by the Daily Mail. Please don’t ignore the facts — it makes you like ignorant.

  8. Adam J

    August 21, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Ok, micheal more than half of that stuff is all gossip. Don’t you really know the Sun ?

  9. JLay

    August 20, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Nasty – is that the same £100,000 Bentley that plays for Spurs?

  10. Michael

    August 20, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    My name is Michael, actually, thanks.

    Where did he confess?

    September 2005: “I really regret what I’ve done to Toni. I’m not going to cheat on her ever again and want to marry her more than anything in the world.”

    Taken from an article found on the Daily Mail’s website written in August 2006:

    “Meanwhile, Terry’s love life has been no less colourful. He is engaged to beautician Toni Poole, 24, and in their first seven years together is said to have strayed at least eight times, but has always been forgiven.

    Last September, he said: “I really regret what I’ve done to Toni. I’m not going to cheat on her ever again and want to marry her more than anything in the world.”

    But two months later lurid revelations were made in The Sun about how Terry enjoyed a passionate clinch in his £100,000 Bentley with a busty teenager who had asked for his autograph and then sent her lewd text messages suggesting a threesome with one of her friends.”

  11. Adam J

    August 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Wow. Micheal, you do not know one thing about this game.

    When did John Terry ever confess to cheating on his significant other?

    Gerrard has by no means stepped up when wearing an England Jersey. Not at all.

    You really don’t know ALOT Micheal, like Nick said, i hear netball is good this time of year.

  12. JLay

    August 20, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Nonsense – Terry’s character is on full display for at least 90 minutes every week. He intimidates, argues with, bumps into, and generally harangues the referees every time a call goes against him. I’d expect that sort of behavior from a three year old, not the 27 year-old captain of my national team.

    As for his “passion and commitment”, is that a euphamism for “immature hotheaded jackasssery”? Putting club allegiances aside, do you want a team captain that antagonizes the referees that you depend on to make impartial calls? I wouldn’t.

    I think any impartial party could agree that all three players have had their a-hole moments off the field, but at least the other two are able to hold their sh*t together while they’re on the pitch. That said, I’d give the armband to David James – he seems like the only even-keeled guy on the squad.

    Now, John… Kartik’s a nice, even-tempered guy, so I’m going to have to step in and play at your level.

    Hmm… what has America done?

    America broke free of oppressive British colonialism, bailed the Brits out in two World Wars , defeated national socialism and communism, become the one and only military superpower, and dominated the global economic and cultural landscape for the last 60+ years.

    We are also the dominant football team on our continent – can you say that? Finally, I’ll point out that we generally (but not always) dominate the sports that we’ve “invented”, which should be pretty easy to do – but not for you folks, huh?

    What has England ever won, Brit? Now, why don’t YOU go back to jerking off about The Great Fluke of 1966, you silly scouser!

    I eagerly await your response…

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      so the japs have won the baseball world cup (twice) while the u.s. lost to puerto rico and spain, greece and croatia have beaten them at basketball, both thought of as girls games in the u.k. oh and when you say invented you mean adapted. you’re right about john terry being a prick that’s 100% true.

  13. Slipereypete

    August 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    The idea that you could speak to the “character” of someone you have never met is absolutely baffling. You haven’t a clue as to what makes JT tick, nor do I. This is just rank amateurish, reactionary, subjective trash.

  14. Simon Burke

    August 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I think most people would have chosen Rio over Terry because the average laymen tends to like Rio more than Terry. There is something thats offputting about Terry. That said, this sentiment has nothing to do with sport but in England that sort of public perception as silly as it sounds matters.
    I like Gerrard but as Rob says above he hasnt performed that well for England. I’d have picked Rio, an all round better footballer than Terry and apparently more popular in the dressing room. Terry is a great captain at Chelsea though no question, though i dont like him either 🙂

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm

      no-one does

  15. Kartik

    August 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    John, glad you have your straight. Brad Guzan was the goalkeeper on Gerrard’s goal not Howard.

    BTW, I’m not a Chelsea fan as you claim. I just believe based on my observation of football that Lampard is a more cultured player than Gerrard. Just an opinion based on watching both footballers for about eight years now. If you say something honest about any Liverpool player this is the automatic reaction. It’s childish and juvenile.

  16. John

    August 20, 2008 at 11:54 am

    kartik, gerrard schooled your yanks and made tim howard look like a schoolboy on the goal he scored at wembley. yet you bash him? what has america ever won, yank? why do you not tell me what the yanks have won? go back to jerking off about olympic basketball you yank chelsea lover.

  17. Rob

    August 20, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Gerrard is a lovely thought but he hasn’t really performed for England in ages. He doesn’t care as much about the Three Lions as he does the ‘Pool.

  18. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 20, 2008 at 9:49 am

    This post and subsequent reaction illustrate why England despite having arguably superior talent to everyone cannot win. We’re bitching about the captain’s armband taking shots at people (as I admit I did in another post attacking Gerrard) and basing everything on their CLUB CAREERS. Some national managers do not even base their call ups on club form because some guys are more natural in the national team setup. English fans and the media are so obsessed with the club game that performances for England itself seem to take on second nature in their thought process.

    A good example is Emile Heskey who despite not being much of a goal scorer for England is a VERY useful player at the international level. England is not physical enough and does not have attacking player who play well with their back to goal. When McLaren picked Heskey last year the media heaped nothing but ridicule but I correctly labeled the pick as a smart move by Macca, which it proved to be in the Russia and Israel matches where EH played critical roles.

    Folks their is a HUGE difference between international and domestic club football. They are almost totally different games: please understand that.

  19. JSquirrelpants

    August 20, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Whoever called this a “character assassination” is spot on. I’m not a John Terry fan by any means, but this sounds like it was written by a bitter ex-wife. Going by this analysis, I’m suprised you would support Stevie G; afterall he did have children out of wedlock and wrote a self-serving autobiography!

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      out of wedlock, oh please. so who do you call on cliff richard?

  20. Michael

    August 20, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Nick, good for Terry, he stepped up. But you know what, he missed. He wasn’t the only one, but he missed with the game on the line.

    There is no way you can say that IF Terry would’ve have played against Croatia, England would’ve qualified. None of Croatia’s goals had anything to do with poor play at center back, so I don’t see how Terry’s presence would’ve changed anything. As it is, you’re talking about if’s and maybe’s.

    Character assassination? Terry has no character to begin with. Look at how he conducts himself on and off the field. He wasn’t even Chelsea’s leader last year — that was Michael Ballack. Sure, Terry can command men and give a good speech or whatever, fine, but that’s not all that being captain is about. Do you remember when Capello said he’s looking for an ambassador for England “on the pitch and off it”? You can’t convince me that the right man for the job is Terry.

    • o.c.

      September 19, 2009 at 6:00 am

      best moment for 42 years. terry, on his arse in moscow, i laughed for hours. great night. justice for spitting on tevez. terry is scum, like his mum.

  21. JD

    August 20, 2008 at 8:40 am

    I agree Gerrard is the obvious choice…except he isn’t as good with the press as Terry or Ferdinand. And (unfortunately) there is more to the England captaincy than footballing talent.

    And while I won’t argue with Terry’s “commitment and passion” it does often cross the line into offensive and obnoxious…intentionally or not.

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm

      the press, for f**k’s sake mate listen to yourself,you’re selecting the england captain based on his skills at a press conference, in that case give the job to boris johnson. the press!

  22. Sam

    August 20, 2008 at 8:32 am


    The kid who wrote this… I hope you continue to further display how little you know.

  23. Nick

    August 20, 2008 at 7:20 am

    But if Michael Jordan didn’t play- would they have won? Hence, if JT would have played in the final qualifier, there is every chance we could have won and made the Euros.

    The Olympics!? England actually qualified by making the semis of the European U21 championships. But England doesn’t compete in the Olympics, Great Britain does. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t want to be part of a Team GB olympic football team as it would threaten their existence in terms of having an independent national team in the eyes of FIFA.

    • o.c.

      September 19, 2009 at 5:56 am

      it was terry’s fault they didn’t qualify.

  24. eplnfl

    August 20, 2008 at 6:41 am

    I may be missing something but the Team Captain in whatever sport for whatever country means nothing! Michael Jordan was not the captain of basketball’s “Dream Team” in 1992 but they managed to win. No one can tell me that England has not qualified for Euro 08 or the Olympics because of their choice for captain. It’s a nice honor for a player but means nothing!

  25. Desmond -

    August 20, 2008 at 5:00 am

    John Terry – great spirit, leadership and ready to die for a team. Also play in a position that is very easy to lead the team.

    However, my captain in my mind is Steven G (inspiring, awesome central midfielder compares to Lamp, Hargreaves, Carrick and Jenas).

    I like Owen too, but he got himself injured too much.

    Ferdinand cant be the captain. Ever since the 9 months ban on him due to failing a drug test, I hate him despite his great performance. He is not better than Beckham (LA Galaxy captain), John Terry (Chelsea captain) or Stevie G (Liverpool captain)

    Again, I think assigning capello as england manager is bullshit. Should have fought for Scolari

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:21 pm

      if only john terry would die for his team. terry is scum, like his mum. gerrard is the only choice, but it wouldn’t make any difference if god himself was manager of england, they’d still get no further than 1/4 finals. they’re crap accept it.

  26. Nick

    August 20, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Great character assassination of John Terry. I don’t think he should apologise for displaying his passion and commitment (a trademark of many great captains).

    And he shouldn’t get it because he missed what would have been the deciding penalty in the Champions League final!? Lets forget that he had the balls to step up and take that penalty- and if it wasn’t for one slip he would have won Chelsea their first European Cup.

    Need i mention that he captained his country at Wembley and scored the opener against USA just ONE WEEK after the champions league final. That is testament to the man that is Englands’ born leader.

    As for Gerrard, he didn’t perform when given the opportunity to captain the side. He didn’t pick up the team when that was required. If an injured John Terry would have played against Croatia at Wembley then England would have been represented at the Euros.

    Poor predictably biased article, why not try another sport that you might understand a little better? Netball is good at this time of year.

    • o.c.

      September 14, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      born leader, he’s a peasant, sir alf would have made him clean bobby moore’s boots. born leader my arse.

  27. David

    August 20, 2008 at 12:57 am

    I perfectly agree!! Let Gerrard be a captain.

  28. Todd

    August 19, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    had me until the gerrard revelation. had to stop reading for fear of vomiting. rio was the clear choice

  29. tyduffy

    August 19, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I would have probably chose Rio. I don’t think that Gerrard has the personal gravitas to lead them.

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