Terry shrugs off effects of headline hell

The England captain is the latest member of Capello's squad to find his name sullied in the media mire.
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The Independent Online

John Terry knew the question was coming. So, how then did he feel about his mother being cautioned by the police for, allegedly, shoplifting? "I can't really talk about it because it's being dealt with by the solicitors. It's a very personal matter and until the solicitors sort things out I won't be speaking about it," the England captain, not unreasonably, said.

But how does it – and the headlines he woke up to yesterday morning, splashed across the front page of The Sun: "John Terry's mum arrested for shoplifting", and, inside, "JT's mum & mum-in-law in run-in with the law" – affect him? "I've seen different headlines over the years about myself and other things about my family and as a player you learn to deal with that," he added. "I came and trained normally this morning. It doesn't affect me on the pitch or off the pitch. I'll continue to get on with my football."

There have, indeed, been a few headlines of late – although not that many have involved Terry who has, nevertheless, had his difficulties in the past. There was Ashley Cole's arrest for being drunk and disorderly, Steven Gerrard's forthcoming court case after he was charged with affray following a disturbance in a bar, and the ongoing debate over Wayne Rooney's temper. And although punching a corner flag after being sent off isn't quite in the same category as the other offences, some of which are only alleged, then it probably does still have a more pertinent sporting resonance.

Discipline is again an issue and although it is dangerous to simply roll these incidents together – and Terry can hardly be vilified because of what his mother, Sue, did or did not do – it does have an impact on England's footballing ambitions. So do some players need to clean up their acts? "We all know the discipline needed to be part of the England squad and we need to show respect for the management," Terry said. "We have to set an example to kids. Sometimes on the pitch things can get over-heated. But that comes with passion.

"Off the field there are going to be incidents, sometimes they are not the truth, but sometimes there is a lot of truth thrown in. But the main thing for us players is to play well, keep our discipline and play well for our clubs and keep out of the limelight and concentrate on what we love doing and that is playing football.

"As a younger player I certainly made my mistakes and I have definitely learned from that. As a player you need to go through those, although people might not agree with me, but I think you have to have your bad times to learn. If you keep making mistakes over and over again then that is when you have an issue. If you can make a mistake at 18, 19, 20 or 21 and then learn from it and not make it again it is obviously a learning curve for younger players."

Cole, who received an £80 fine after being arrested outside a nightclub in west London for swearing at police, where he had been with Terry and another Chelsea player, Michael Mancienne, is, however, 28. Earlier this week, England manager Fabio Capello took him to one side and although this was interpreted as the Italian talking to him about his behaviour, it's understood they discussed football and even called the incident, for which Cole was fined by Chelsea, a "private matter".

Capello used that phrase again, yesterday, when asked about his thoughts with regards to Terry's mother being arrested. However he added that he had also spoken the defender, at breakfast time, "but it was a private conversation". He just wanted to ascertain Terry's state of mind, he said. He must, however, be bemused by what has happened to some of his squad in recent weeks, and he did address the players earlier this week about their behaviour on and off the pitch. Discipline – as players and as men – is important to him.

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