The two sides to John Terry

Chelsea's captain has rarely put a foot wrong on the field. Off it, however, it's one calamity after another, writes Robin Scott-Elliot

Luiz Felipe Scolari was not at Stamford Bridge for long, but the Brazilian did not need long to deliver judgement on his captain. "For John Terry," suggested Scolari, "dying on the field would be glory. You would need to kill him and maybe even then he would still play."

The problem for Terry is that his career is becoming defined by chains of events off the field, even if his current crisis does, for once, have its roots on the pitch. On the field he has never appeared in the slightest bit bothered by the storms that have regularly raged around him when he has left the dressing room and strode into our world. As a footballer he has remained one of the country's most consistent performers for the better part of a decade. When he was last stripped of the England captaincy – we have of course been here before – almost two years ago to the day, he responded by heading in Chelsea's winner against Burnley. In celebration he patted the club badge on his royal blue shirt, his face an unreadable mask.

Chelsea has always been his sanctuary, a club he has given his all to since the age of 12 (ignoring the brief flirtation with Manchester City and a telephone-number salary three years ago), and it may be in the difficult months to come, as he awaits July's trial, that Stamford Bridge and the shielded confines of the club's training around in Cobham become his sole footballing focus. Yesterday there were suggestions Terry did not want to wear a senior England shirt for a 73rd time, a turn of events that would surely bring sighs of relief around the Football Association offices at Wembley.

It was in a box at the national stadium, with a view of one of football's most famous stretches of turf, that Fabio Capello briskly informed Terry two years ago that he was being relieved of his captaincy duties in the wake of newspaper allegations of an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the former partner of Terry's then good friend Wayne Bridge. A decoy vehicle had left Cobham in a failed attempt to distract the waiting media before Terry had been driven to Wembley. This time it was a telephone call from David Bernstein that did for him. The man described by Steve McClaren as possessing all the attributes an international captain needs is an international captain no longer.

"I'm convinced," said McClaren on awarding Terry the captaincy for the first time six years ago, "he will prove to be one of the best captains England has ever had." Terry promptly nodded in the first goal of McClaren's ill-fated tenure and kissed his armband in celebration. The boy from the same Barking estate that was home to Bobby Moore was leading on the pitch in the only way he knew, by example.

For some he became a leader for our times, a time when the game of football has never seen so much money and never seemed so obsessed with money. Terry has a reputation that sits snugly with an easily fostered view of modern-day players: the best car, flashest watch, and a seeming disdain for those outside the bubble. There have been a string of stories that have taken him to the front end of newspapers; fined by Chelsea for his behaviour in a Heathrow hotel with a number of other players in the wake of 9/11, urinating on the floor of a nightclub, fined for parking in a disabled bay, accusations (which he has denied) of selling tours of the Chelsea training ground and his agents touting (without his knowledge, he insists) the England captain for everything from bar weddings to barmitzvahs. And befitting the way the world works, there have been kiss-and-tell tales too.

But the tale they tell at Chelsea is a very different one. "Mr Chelsea" is how Frank Lampard describes his long-time team-mate. That Terry is a leader – and at club level an extremely effective one too – is undeniable. This is the man who in 2009 hared down from his seat in the stands – where he was watching due to suspension – and barged into the dressing room during half-time of a Champions League quarter-final with the home side two down to Liverpool. Guus Hiddink stood aside and Terry had his furious say; the game ended 4-4 and Chelsea went into the last four.

Terry first captained Chelsea in 2001. He was to succeed Marcel Desailly as the club captain three years later and has named the Frenchman, Tony Adams and Bryan Robson as the leaders he most admires. Closer to home, he has suggested Dennis Wise as the biggest influence on his captaincy. "Maybe I saw [strength in adversity] from Wisey," Terry once said. "He had little bits [of off-field problems] throughout his career but regardless of what happened he was always the best on the training pitch. He was always at the front of the pack, making sure he pulled people up with him. I learnt a lot."

Terry's ability to learn from others has not always been obvious, and there has also been a marked lack of appreciation of the wider picture; bubble-wrapped in the world according to JT. When he rushed to man the barricades in protest at Capello's running of England's World Cup base camp two years ago he appeared surprised to discover nobody crying "aux armes" in support.

"This is very big mistake," said Capello ominously, but then there has always been something about Terry that the Italian could not resist. When he took over he hesitated before settling on McClaren's great leader. And he went back to Terry again last year, the man who as a footballer has shown the discipline to collect only four red cards in close to 600 appearances for club and country. But, whether Terry buys into it or not, there is more to life than being a footballer.

Terry and England: Ups and downs

2006 Chosen to succeed David Beckham as England captain by Steve McClaren.

2008 Named captain by new manager Fabio Capello. Comes under pressure after allegations he took cash to lay on a tour of Chelsea's training ground, which he denied.

2010 Fails to obtain gagging injunction over alleged relationship with Vanessa Perroncel, former partner of team-mate Wayne Bridge. Axed as captain by Capello and Bridge refuses to shake Terry's hand before a game. Angers team-mates at World Cup by hinting at player unrest and criticising tactics.

2011 Restored to role of permanent England captain by Capello.

Denies making racist comments to QPR's Anton Ferdinand. The Metropolitan Police launch investigation. Left out of friendly against Spain but returns to captain side for 34th time against Sweden. The Crown Prosecution Service charge Terry with racially abusing Ferdinand. Case set for July.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?