McClaren wins battle with FA to pick Terry as new captain

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The Independent Football

Steve McClaren won another personal battle with the Football Association yesterday when he appointed John Terry as the new England captain despite reservations in the governing body about the Chelsea defender's suitability for the job.

Revelations about Terry's private life, not to mention his brushes with the law, had persuaded some at the FA that the natural successor to David Beckham was Steven Gerrard. However, one day early, at 3pm yesterday, McClaren announced that Terry would be his new captain with Gerrard his vice-captain. Terry himself had only found out via a phone call from the England manager one hour earlier, and will make his first public appearance with McClaren at a press conference in London today.

After pushing the FA main board to appoint Terry Venables as his technical advisor, McClaren had to convince them to accept Terry as captain. As recently as 2002, Terry was not considered for selection in Sven Goran Eriksson's World Cup finals squad as he defended himself against assault charges after an incident with a bouncer in the Wellington Club in London earlier that year.

While Terry was acquitted of affray and actual bodily harm in August 2002, he has only really resurrected his reputation in the last three years as Chelsea have risen to prominence under Roman Abramovich and he has been appointed captain by Jose Mourinho. Still, the occasionally lurid details of his private life that have been the subject of tabloid kiss and tells have also threatened to undermine his chances of the England captaincy. Despite that, McClaren made clear to the FA that Terry is his first choice and he will be hoping that the 25-year-old does not let him down. McClaren said yesterday he was "certain I've got the right man in John Terry".

"I'm convinced he will prove to be one of the best captains England has ever had," McClaren said. "John has all the attributes an international captain needs: leadership, authority, courage, ability, tactical awareness and a refusal to accept second-best.

"He has been an inspiration for Chelsea and is at his best in adversity. Over the five years I've been involved with the England coaching set-up, I've seen first hand the respect that John has among his fellow players. There are a number of strong leaders in the squad and he will not lack support on and off the pitch."

Terry's long-term partner, Toni Poole, gave birth to twins - a boy and girl - before the World Cup finals this summer, the timing of which saw Terry run off the pitch at an England training session in Portugal and fly home in his football kit. It is hoped that the responsibilities of fatherhood will also help prepare him for the scrutiny that will accompany the England captaincy.

Terry said: "It is the ultimate honour to be the captain of your country and I am very proud to be given this great opportunity. It is an incredible challenge and one I am looking forward to."

Terry, who made his debut against Serbia and Montenegro in June 2003, beat Gerrard to the job. The Liverpool captain, who will face Terry in the Community Shield at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, has been appointed vice-captain in place of Michael Owen, who may miss the whole season with a cruciate ligament injury.

Gerrard, 26, congratulated Terry on his appointment. "I'm sure he'll do a great job," he said. "He's a tremendous leader for Chelsea and has all the qualities required for the role. I'm also pleased to have been appointed vice-captain. I am grateful that Steve took the time to call me and inform me of his decision.

"There are a number of captains in the England squad and I know we will all be giving 100 per cent support to Steve and John."

McClaren said that Gerrard was a "strong candidate" to succeed Beckham. "I told Steven that I'm sure he will also get the chance to lead his country while I'm head coach," he added.

The former England captain Bryan Robson, West Bromwich Albion manager, said that Terry "possesses all the leadership qualities needed to be a skipper".

What makes a good captain? The experts give their verdicts

George Graham Former Arsenal manager

A captain must set an example, someone who takes on board what the players want: to be a go-between with the manager and players. He must have the respect of the players off the pitch as well as during the week in training. That's why I made Tony Adams captain when he was 21. He reminded me of Frank McLintock. He was also a great captain, a great motivator and leader.

Graeme Murty Reading's current captain

I'm going to go a bit left-field here and say empathy. Understanding what drives players is key. Some players respond to a kick up the backside, others need an arm around their shoulders, and that goes for the ones who don't make the squad too. You have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team and put team spirit first, even if you feel your own spirit dropping. That's where maturity comes in.

Craig Brown Former Scotland manager

The one necessity for a captain is stature: he has to have presence on and off the field. He must also enjoy the respect of his players and communicate well between them and the manager. There is also a need to be meticulous, as a captain's media commitments have increased in the modern game. David Beckham was chosen as the team's best player but grew into the role admirably.

Gavin Peacock Former QPR, Chelsea midfielder

A captain must have respect and be a good player who performs consistently. Captains set an example with words and actions. Gerrard would be a Roy of the Rovers-type man of action, and Terry has the strength of personality to make a great captain.

Interviews by Matt Denver, Robert Frische, Stephen Attree and Glenn Moore