Wayne Bridge came to his decision to retire from international football when it became clear that there was no hint of remorse from John Terry over his affair with Bridge's ex-fiancée, Vanessa Perroncel, it emerged yesterday.
The two players have spoken briefly just once since the scandal broke when Terry called Bridge's mobile phone from a withheld number. Terry had previously called and sent text messages to Bridge – to which he did not respond – none of which gave the Manchester City left-back any indication that he was prepared to accept responsibility for his affair with Perroncel and its consequences.
The whole sorry saga, which Terry tried to conceal with an injunction on the News of the World last month, has now lost the England manager, Fabio Capello, a captain – after he was forced to sack Terry – and his understudy left-back Bridge. With Ashley Cole out with a broken left ankle and not guaranteed to play at the World Cup in June, the England team has hit yet another injury crisis.
Capello said last night: "It [the decision] surprised me, but I respect the decision of all the players. The door for him is always open. We have time, there is still three months until I will decide my final squad for South Africa. I hope that Wayne Bridge will be with us at the World Cup, but I respect his decision."
Bridge spoke to senior officials in Capello's staff yesterday morning who tried to talk him out of retiring – having originally thought that they had persuaded him not to quit as a result of his rift with Terry. The left-back had been mulling over the decision on his international future long before the news of the affair became public. A source in the Capello camp said: "No one can feel as he [Bridge] feels at the moment. He was told it would be silly to give up an opportunity to play in the World Cup but obviously he has changed his mind a lot in the last three or four weeks. He has been thinking about it every day.
"He just cannot carry on with the scandal so he has decided to give it up. He was told how much we care about him. He's a really nice guy. He was told how disappointed we are with this decision."
Bridge made his decision public yesterday in order that he was not named in the 30-strong provisional squad for England's friendly against Egypt on Wednesday, that is slimmed down to 23 names tomorrow evening. The 29-year-old released a short statement through his solicitors, saying that his position in the squad had been made "untenable and potentially divisive".
Bridge has not spoken to Capello since the Terry scandal broke last month but he has had extensive conversations with the team's general manager, Franco Baldini. Sources close to Bridge said yesterday that the player wanted to make a point that he was not simply going to forgive Terry for what he regarded as a distressing and humiliating episode.
Had he joined up with England this weekend, Bridge accepted that he would have had to put aside his differences for the sake of the team which, in turn, he thought Terry would have regarded as an end to the saga. Bridge was not prepared to do that even if it meant not playing in the World Cup. It is understood that Leighton Baines of Everton and Blackburn's Stephen Warnock will both be named in the England squad on Saturday.
Bridge said in his statement: "I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks. It has always been an honour to play for England. However, I believe my position in the squad is untenable and potentially divisive."
"Sadly, therefore, I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection. I have informed the management of this decision. I wish the team all the very best in South Africa."
There are also major concerns over new captain Rio Ferdinand, who will also miss next week's friendly. He will not play at least until United's home game with Fulham on 14 March due to a back problem. Even so, Tottenham's Ledley King is not under consideration
Sir Alex Ferguson is willing to allow Ferdinand to join the squad ahead of next Wednesday's match with Egypt. "I think that's entirely up to Fabio he can do that. No problem for me," said Ferguson.Reuse content