John Terry yesterday issued as staunch a defence of his character as the Football Association's vow of silence on the Anton Ferdinand race row permits, insisting he had never considered hiding from an issue he feels duty-bound to face and revealing he has been offered support by players and managers from all over the world – including Jose Mourinho – as the investigation continues.
The FA was adamant that neither the England captain nor his manager, Fabio Capello, would discuss the allegation that Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at Queen's Park Rangers last month, an incident that is the subject of inquiries by both the game's governing body and the Metropolitan Police, during their press briefings yesterday.
Terry described his inability to put his side of the story over what happened at Loftus Road as "unfortunate" but understandable, adding that he would have welcomed the chance to speak in public earlier, had Capello afforded him the opportunity last week rather than electing to omit him from his starting XI for the victory over Spain.
The 30-year-old was at pains, though, to thank his team-mates, peers and fans for their backing despite calls for him to be stripped of the England captaincy should he be found guilty.
"I wish I could have come last week [to face the press] and captained the side, but the manager made his decision," Terry said, when asked if he had considered withdrawing from international duty this week in order to avoid the glare of the spotlight during the investigation. "I am here and I am proud to be England captain.
"I would have faced the media last week if I had been picked against Spain. I said that to the manager, that I would have dealt with it my way, like I am now. I have never done things any differently, and I will not do things differently in the future. I am not someone to hide away. Unfortunately, I cannot speak [about the allegations]. We all understand that with the police and the FA. [But] being captain is all about coming out and facing up to it.
"I do not want to talk about people individually, but yes, [Mourinho, Terry's former manager at Chelsea, has been in touch], and from across the world people and players and managers have been on the phone and been very supportive.
"It has been nice that the [England] players have supported me publicly and personally. It has been really good. And I was delighted with the reaction of the fans on Saturday. It was nice to get applauded as I warmed up down the touchline by the England fans. That has probably put me at ease. I am focused on playing well and training. From my side of things, nothing has changed at all."
Terry's natural bullishness does not seem to have been affected by an allegation which could affect his career in a way which a string of his prior offences – from parking in disabled bays to alleged marital infidelity with a former girlfriend of his erstwhile team-mate, Wayne Bridge – could not. That may well be testament to the captains he has played under in his own career, as well as those he admired growing up.
"Watching England, it was Tony Adams and Bryan Robson who really got me," he said. "The others I was fortunate to play with were Dennis Wise and Marcel Desailly.
"Maybe I saw [strength in adversity] from Wisey. He had little bits [of off-field problems] throughout his career but regardless of what happened, he was always the best on the training pitch. He was always at the front of the pack running, making sure he pulled people up with him. Seeing that as a young boy was really good. I learnt a lot."
Despite following that example, it seems unlikely Terry will enter into history as an England captain to unite the nation in the fashion of Bobby Moore or Billy Wright. By leading Capello's team out at Wembley tonight, he will become the sixth-most frequent captain of England. That his reign will not be remembered with universal love, though, does not seem to faze him.
"I am not too sure," replied Terry when asked why he thought he was such a divisive figure. "Regardless of what people think, though, no one can ever take away what I have done in my career."
Captain marvels: Terry to go sixth
Most games as England captain:
Billy Wright (1946-59) 90
Bobby Moore (1962-73) 90
Bryan Robson (1980-91) 65
David Beckham (1996-2009) 59
Alan Shearer (1992-2000) 34
Kevin Keegan (1972-82) 31
John Terry (2003-) 30Reuse content