Billy Wright, Bobby Moore and Bryan Robson are the three most capped England football captains of all time. Each had a lustre about them that transcended tribal club rivalries. Whatever we thought of Wolves, West Ham or Manchester United we knew they were "real" captains of a country that puts way too much emphasis on the role. They are still universally admired. The World Cup-winning Moore has immortal status.
No one doubts John Terry takes pride from captaining his country. He is a warrior leader a la Robson, Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce or Terry Butcher. Chelsea fans adore him. But it is evident that among other fans, he is the most unpopular England captain of recent times. At i, as in so many workplaces yesterday, several relished the news of his charge – no matter how sad the fact of it.
There is little logic in British football. Hatreds form on the back of the flimsiest, and long-forgotten reasons. Why did "fans" ever start screaming "you fat b*stard" at Frank Lampard, one of the self-evidently fittest, and, I bet, nicest of players? You should see the screamers' physiques.
But Terry, like Ashley Cole (and Cristiano Ronaldo), is loathed. Is it the scrapping, no-prisoners, never-explain air about him? Is it class snobbery? Or a sign of just how football has changed in the post-Beckham Sky era? A man from Terry's background who becomes England captain should be regarded as a hero. The fact that he is not, regardless of the charge – I can't comment on that – is yet another sign of the ever-widening gulf between the spectators and the spoilt, multi-millionaires in which we invest so much of our time, cash, passion and, yes, faith.