John Terry's day job is dealing with centre-forwards with a tendency to hit the ground too easily but yesterday he waded into the great Eduardo da Silva diving debate by claiming English players were "too honest". The England captain said that his team-mates should go down in the penalty area if they are fouled rather than stay on their feet.
One day after his club, Chelsea, were banned from signing another player until 2011, Terry was in forthright mood on the subject of simulation ahead of today's friendly against Slovenia. Banned from talking about the Chelsea transfer embargo, the England captain declared himself fit although he may yet be rested by Fabio Capello ahead of Wednesday's Croatia World Cup qualifier.
Asked about the Eduardo dive, Terry said: "That's something the England lads don't do. Sometimes we're too honest. Even in the Premier League, we see the English lads get a bit of contact and try to stay on their feet and score the chance. The foreign mentality coming in is that any little clip you can go tumbling over, because of the speed of the game nowadays."
Asked whether England's strikers should take advantage of contact in the box, however slight, Terry said: "That's how we play [staying on our feet]. If there's a foul or touch when you're through on goal you go down and it's for the referee to decide. If you stay on your feet and don't get full contact on your shot afterwards, it's for the referee to decide. Sometimes we do [stay up] a little bit and that goes against us.
"Sometimes as a country, we're maybe too honest. Nowadays with the speed of the game it's any little touch, you see so many sending offs where a guy clips an opponent's leg from behind and he goes tumbling over. It looks a lot worse than it is. It's down to the speed of the game."
This is a familiar path for Terry to tread. He said much the same little more than three years ago when he pointed out that Wayne Rooney kept his feet despite being fouled in the build up to his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal. In the seconds before that incident the England striker could probably have claimed a foul from either Carvalho or Armando Petit but elected to stay on his feet and fight for the ball.
Rooney was sent off, and deservedly so, although he had no second thoughts about going down under Manuel Almunia's challenge on Saturday against Arsenal at Old Trafford to win a penalty. Terry's more pragmatic approach to the game was a direct result, he said, of his exposure to the dark arts of European football.
"You know who they [the worst divers] are. It's not all the foreigners. It's unfair to single them out but because of our mentality and the way we've grown up its not something we've ever been into. When Chelsea first came in the Uefa Cup and the Champions League, we had to adapt, because in the last minute of games we were giving away silly fouls that weren't [fouls]. If the rules are there and the referees are giving those fouls then we have to play along with that."
It would be worth pointing out that the Chelsea team that lost to Viking Stavanger in the Uefa Cup in 2002 had only three Englishmen – Terry, Graeme Le Saux and Frank Lampard – in the starting XI, but you get his point.
As for Eduardo, Terry was surprisingly benevolent. He conceded that the ad hoc decision by Uefa to apply the law to the striker was "a bit harsh" on Arsenal. "I think the Eduardo one [in the Champions League qualifier] was a dive. We can all see that and it's disappointing to see because Arsenal are a quality side and I don't think they want to be portrayed like that.
"If the rules are not clear enough, something happens and there's a two-game ban, I think it's a bit harsh. If the rules are in place it's up to Arsène Wenger to tell his players not to do it. Simple as that. Until the rules are in place and the players have a clear picture, it's difficult."
It is not just the different rules but the variations in how they are applied by referees that Terry said was liable to catch players out. "You have to be in line with the rules and the rules are changing so it is difficult," he said. "You come up against some refs who won't let you touch an opponent even at corners.
"You're not physically allowed to put a hand on him. When I was growing up you were always told to do that so you knew where he was. Now you're told to put your arms down or a penalty will be given."
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