No other player in the English game receives as much widespread criticism, condemnation - and in many instances hate - as Chelsea and England centre-half John Terry. After another dogged display by the national side against Ukraine, in which Terry played exceptionally well, it seems like the right time to analyse what the defender has truly done wrong and whether all the stick he gets is justified.
Whilst Steven Gerrard picked up UEFA's man-of-the-match award for another swashbuckling performance from the deep-lying role that already proves Roy Hodgson knows what he is doing - and was probably just unlucky at Liverpool - my eye was drawn to England's centre-backs who got through a ton of work against a confident Ukrainian forward line. I'm not sure anyone would have picked Terry and Lescott as their two central defenders for this tournament, but due to injury and 'footballing reasons' they are the couple that have excelled for the national side who topped Group D against the odds.
Ok, so John Terry gets an 8/10 rating because he performed to the best of his abilities, but now lacks the pace that once made him the best centre-back in the Premier League even if he still has that aura of calmness and class about him on the pitch. Off it you would be ridiculed for such a sentence, but he is still useful to this England side.
Terry looks like he's running through treacle to keep up with the play, but his all-or-nothing defending paid off when it was needed most
In the first half Terry blocked a goal-bound strike with just a shrug of his lower shoulder to beat away a shot that looked likely to beat Joe Hart. In the second period he recovered in a manner Chelsea fans have enjoyed countless times, to clear Marko Devic's deflected effort away from danger. Yes, goal-line replays prove it should have counted, but Terry never gave up despite being given the run-around by the Shatkar Donetsk forward and his awareness kept England ahead and helped ease their passage to the quarter-finals. Watching that moment again, Terry looks like he's running through treacle to keep up with the play, but his all-or-nothing defending paid off when it was needed most.
England fans getting together to watch the action this tournament seem to have countless discussions about players based on their club commitments. One such argument repeatedly involves myself - an Arsenal fan - and my Chelsea-supporting friend over the much-maligned John Terry. I have always been ready to stick the knife into 'JT', and my mate never tries to fight his corner but keeps me quiet by saying: "What has Terry actually done to deserve it all?" I always point to the obvious controversies, but end up feeling like my argument is hollow. Then the match starts and everyone continues laying into Terry, so I feel content again. But the point remains - and is one I keep thinking about - does John Terry actually deserve the hate?
What the Blues and Three Lions servant has done to deserve so much bile from the terraces and tutting from armchair pundits is completely open to debate. Before the Wayne Bridge ex-girlfriend affair in 2010, Terry had been involved in a number of controversial incidents, but nothing worse than a lot of current Premier League players. These controversies are similar to those committed by other English footballers who are held in much higher esteem than the Barking-born stopper.
Steven Gerrard beat up a DJ for not playing the song he wanted and Glen Johnson stole a B & Q toilet seat worth little over £300 because he forgot his receipt when taking the original back
Terry's closet skeletons began to break free in September 2001 when he and three Chelsea team-mates were fined two weeks wages by the club for a bar brawl at Heathrow Airport with a number of American Tourists. (here read Jack Wilshere's night-out arrest) In January the next year Terry and bad-boy mate Jody Morris assaulted a bouncer. (read Steven Gerrard beating up a DJ for not playing the song he wanted) A month later Terry was fined for parking his Bentley in a disabled bay. (read Glen Johnson stealing a B & Q toilet seat worth little over £300 because he forgot his receipt when taking the original back) Then there's a gap of allegations against Terry until he is accused of hosting private tours of Stamford Bridge in association with his father. (here read Ashley Cole firing an air rifle against a club intern at Chelsea' training ground)
Those were admittedly just drops in the ocean compared to the two most recent tidal wave incidents that have solidified John terry as Chelsea and England's most prominent boo-boy. The Wayne Bridge ex-girlfriend affair has seen Terry condemned for sleeping with his team-mates former flame, but colleagues in this England side have surely done worse. Wayne Rooney cheated on his wife by sleeping with a prostitute, supposedly a woman who was a grand-mother. Ashley Cole also initiated a series of extra-marital activities when with his wife Cheryl Cole. And the woman Terry cheated with, Veronica Perroncel, has received press apologies for running the story and maintains the incident never occurred. Similar ramblings from Terry would probably see him castrated, such was the outcry against him over the case.
Most critics of the man at this point would point to the racism case with Anton Ferdinand, but as a Journalism student who recently passed his Essential Law exam, I will not be commenting on that incident. The fact of the matter remains that the case awaits trial and no one can be sure whether John Terry is guilty or not until the court comes to a conclusion. In this country the law states that defendants deserve to be treated as 'innocent until proven guilty' and therefore Terry must be afforded this concession.
Wayne Rooney cheated on his wife by sleeping with a prostitute - supposedly a woman who was a grand-mother - and Ashley Cole also initiated a series of extra-marital activities when with his wife Cheryl Cole
I'm unlikely to change many opinions of the former West Ham defender with this argument, such is the stench of disgust directed at Terry, but as the nation gears up for the knockout rounds maybe it is time to put personal grudges aside and remember that our other so-called 'stars' have committed similar crimes which have since been forgotten. And when you fully survey the truth about John Terry and ignore the anti-JT pub chat directed towards the 31-year-old you start to question just why he is hated so much. For the sheer level of filth he receives is hard to genuinely justify. That may change with the upcoming court case, but for now we should allow England's premier defender some breathing space from all the criticism. Who knows, he may not be 'that kind of bloke' after all...
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