James Lawton: Terry has courage of his convictions – even if some of them are dubious

In him you get what you see: a not notably endearing man who in this situation has the redemption of being comfortable in charge of a team out on the field
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The Independent Football

Can we now move on, boys? Can we stop tweeting and briefing and preening and getting too easily hurt by the fact that, if John Terry is not now nor is ever likely to be a model citizen, he is infinitely best qualified to wear the captain's armband for England in Cardiff on Saturday?

Not because he is a master player or that he hasn't been showing the odd sign of decline over the last year or so. Or that Fabio Capello was not right, with all the evidence before him, to administer the sack last year.

Not for any of those reasons but because he does at least display the courage of some often dubious convictions.

He does not pout and run for cover, broken only by some heart-rending words to "close friends" about the delicacy of his feelings.

That is what his team-mates did again this week when Capello finally confirmed that Terry was officially their leader again and that if anyone had anything to say about it they should do it now.

In Terry you get what you see: a not notably endearing man who, in this situation, has the redemption of being comfortable in charge of a team out on the field. He takes it not as a gift but a right.

He is combative and assertive and, whatever the finer points of the argument, it was absurd to see in the international against Denmark in Copenhagen last month the armband go to first Ashley Cole, and then to Gareth Barry while he looked on.

It may be true that drawing a line under Terry's reinstatement is a bit like attempting to clear up a schoolyard squabble but it is, on balance, worth trying.

If at all successful, it might just persuade us that the national team has the potential to be something more than a desperately underperforming bunch of immature narcissists.

Terry hardly smoothed the process when he resumed office not as someone who really ought to be grateful for all the circumstances that have provoked his resurrection. It was probably far too much to expect him to concede that he had benefited from the absence of any genuine rival, but that did not make his self-justifying performance any less repellent.

Terry, some seem to have forgotten in just 13 months, put his captaincy on the line with behaviour that not only created fissures in the dressing room but widespread disgust in the nation – or at least those parts of it that had a working idea of the meaning of the word "professional".

Despite his protests now, his track record was not one of someone who either understood a crucial aspect of his job, which is the cultivating of team spirit, or who had a power of reflection which might have told him that being captain of England made certain demands on his style and conduct.

Capello has been excoriated for the manner of his rethink, to the extent that when the ousted Rio Fernando sent a message of support to Terry someone said that he was behaving with a decency Capello would not be able to understand.

There may be aspects of English football Capello still doesn't grasp but this hardly leaves a need for lectures in decency, at least not from someone with Ferdinand's chequered record.

What the manager certainly didn't need telling was that whatever the rights and wrongs of his dismissal, John Terry has proved his only viable captain. It may not be heart-warming reality, but it is reality none the less. The rest is so much embarrassing, diminishing twitter.

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