James Lawton: John Terry retirement will see England lose a man of deep contradictions

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

News of Terry's retirement will be greeted with relief by those who believe the requirements of captaincy run deeper presence on the field

English international football lost a combative and frequently commanding leader last night when John Terry brought his international career to an end by his own hand.

Having been twice stripped of the England captaincy, he decided the FA inquiry into the charge he racially abused Anton Ferdinand of Queen's Park Rangers was an act of disloyalty toward a zealous servant following the not guilty verdict he won in the courts.

Many – and probably not least his ferocious rival and brother of Anton, Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand –will see supreme irony in Terry's decision given his alleged affair with the partner of his former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge effectively split the England team in two before the 2010 World Cup. But this is Terry, a man of deep contradictions and, perhaps above all, a singular tendency to follow his instincts – and then reflect later.

Last night's development had another irony in that a few hours earlier England manager Roy Hodgson, who insisted Terry was a key element in his team for the recent European Championships for strictly "football reasons", watched Rio Ferdinand perform superbly for United in their 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield.

Hodgson's decision may have caused ripples at the Football Association offices where the decision to take away the captaincy from Terry because of his impending racism trial had provoked the resignation of Fabio Capello but it was certainly justified by the player's performances in the Ukraine. He produced a series of notably effective performances and at 31 suggested he had the legs and the ambition to play an important part in the campaign for World Cup qualification in Brazil in 2014.

But then who knew how many fresh controversies would explode around the head of a figure who, in many, many ways, had come to represent the celebrity culture of the England game? Terry, adored by the Chelsea following for his hugely committed style, had a track record which made his elevation to the England captaincy somewhat miraculous, but in his nine years in an England shirt his competitive passion could never be questioned.

Even so, the news of his retirement from international football will no doubt be greeted with considerable relief by those who believe the requirements of captaincy – and more recently, in the absence of the armband, powerful influence in the England dressing room – run a little deeper than a driving presence on the field.

Capello sacked Terry, then re-instated him when he believed his strength was not to be found in those who had assumed the leadership of the team.

That was one testament to the positive side of a walking, running enigma.

Much less uplifting was the sense that Terry failed to understand there was more to leading your country than putting on an impressive game face. No doubt he will be missed for the fury of his presence on the field but there is another strong feeling that off it there will be rather less damage for someone like Hodgson to control.

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: rSabotage, a major meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?