Fabio Capello yesterday spoke about John Terry for the first time since his dramatic sacking of the England captain on Friday afternoon and promised that the player would still be a part of his team come the World Cup finals this summer.
Having flatly refused to discuss the Terry episode with television and radio crews, Capello stopped on his way out of the Euro 2012 qualifying draw at the Palace of Culture here to speak briefly about his former captain.
Asked whether Terry would still have a role in the team, Capello told the press: "Yes, sure. He is one of the most important players for England." He added: "It is all over now, it is time to move on." Before then, the England manager was in typically stubborn mood, refusing to expand on his statement on Friday that announced Terry's sacking, which overshadowed another favourable draw for his team in the qualification campaign that begins in the autumn. In the immediate aftermath of the draw, Capello would not even discuss the appointment of Rio Ferdinand as Terry's successor. In fact Capello is yet to appoint Ferdinand officially by name as England captain – in his statement on Friday he simply referred to his "vice-captain" taking Terry's place.
Yesterday, the England manager was not initially in the mood to discuss the matter, saying that he wanted to speak to his players when they meet on 1 March ahead of the Egypt friendly, before he discussed the Terry issue. Capello has not called Ferdinand to speak to his new captain.
"You know that I decided when I was England manager, I decided captain, vice-captain and third captain," he said. "You know everything so why you ask the same question [sic]? I want to speak about this question, but first I want to speak with Rio, the other players. We will speak about the new captain then. I want to speak with them before everything. Usually I prefer to speak with the players, not the journalists. I understand you, but you have to understand me. I decided everything after I spoke with John Terry, but I prefer to speak with the players first."
In Warsaw yesterday, England were drawn with Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales and Montenegro in qualifying Group G for Euro 2012, another reasonable draw to go with the first round group at the World Cup this summer. Capello said that he was glad to avoid Group A in particular, in which Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have been drawn.
With further revelations about Terry in yesterday's newspapers, the topic of the former England captain was still a delicate issue. Guus Hiddink, Terry's former manager at Chelsea, said that Capello had made the right decision in taking the captaincy away from Terry. "Fabio made the right decision," he said. "I loved to work with John in training [at Chelsea] – he is very committed to the club. I know his spirit. He will fight back to regain what he is up to [his usual standards]."
Avram Grant, the former Chelsea manager, now at Portsmouth defended Terry. "He is a great, great captain and he did a good job for me," he said. "Everybody forgets that when I took over at Chelsea, there were a lot of problems. The football was not that good and the team were down but he pulled them together and he was the first who understood what we needed to do. He was a great captain for me and he was the same for England. I feel sorry for him but this is life – so what can you do?"