Route One: Terry Tainted by Role-Model Failings
When a sprightly-faced young central defender appeared at Stamford Bridge for the first time, English football supporters stood, took note and hailed the second-coming of Terry Butcher. A born leader, they said, with a work rate and steely determination, capable of captaining his country for many years. They were right.
But despite these ‘Churchillian’ attributes and commendable bravery, John Terry’s career hasn’t quite lived up to the hefty expectation thrust upon him at an early age. In sporting terms, an impressive trophy allocation and 68 international caps may suggest otherwise, but in a world where sports stars have a responsibility to double up as a role-model and a moral icon, Terry has failed.
The disappointing truth is that John Terry possesses all of the ingredients required to become a sporting legend, to induct himself into footballing folklore and ensure that great centre-backs of future generations are compared to Terry, rather than Butcher.
Innocent until proven guilty is of course a sound basis to the British justice system. However, even taking this into account, it is no coincidence that the cloud of controversy has been hovering over Terry for far longer than it should have been. From affairs with team-mates’ partners, to allegations of racism, JT’s slate has been stained by his many mishaps and the mud has firmly attached itself to the Chelsea man.
In 2001, Terry and his team-mates were fined two-weeks wages after being accused of drunkenly mocking American tourists at Heathrow airport, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
His affair with then team-mate Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend caused him to be stripped of the England captaincy for the first time, and the recent race-row is expected to prompt a second stripping of the leadership by the FA. It’s not the only accusation of unfaithful behaviour to be directed at Terry, in fact, he is alleged to have cheated on his wife with up to eight different women. It is therefore ironic, that he was voted ‘Dad of the year’ last June, albeit by ‘Daddies Sauce.’
A role model on the pitch is very different from one off it, and as inspirational as Terry the player is, his conduct leaves a lot to be desired. John Terry has missed out on the opportunity to become a legend, a true stalwart of English football. Instead, the evoking memories associated with him, will be ones of chaos, controversy and being the first England captain to be stripped of his title on two occasions.