John Terry’s hopes of hanging on to his position as England captain have been bolstered by public backing from Stuart Pearce, one of the national team’s coaches, who described the furore over the defender’s alleged extra-marital affair as a “witch hunt”.
Head coach Fabio Capello, who reached London on Thursday, is expected to decide by the end of this week whether to strip Terry of the captaincy in the wake of reports that he had an affair with model Vanessa Perroncel, the former partner of international team-mate Wayne Bridge.
Pearce, who coaches England’s under-21s as well as helping Capello with the senior squad, said: “The one thing I would say is John Terry is a fantastic captain, in footballing terms on and off the pitch I think he is a selfless professional and his form is fantastic for his country.
“So I’m not a big lover of witch hunts of people which I’m afraid our country tends to follow a little bit these days.
“The bottom line is John, his family and everyone concerned in the matter — it’s a matter for those people and not the likes of other people who haven’t got a vested interest in what goes on.”
Capello arrived back in England on Thursday after recuperating from a recent knee operation in Switzerland and was expected to meet Terry and make a decision on his future before Sunday’s draw for Euro 2012 qualifying in Warsaw.
The Italian faces a tricky judgement over how to respond to a situation which has divided opinion in England to the extent that he will be severely criticised whatever course of action he takes.
Terry’s alleged affair has resulted in him being pilloried, in the words of one columnist, as a “five-star scumbag” while numerous football figures have accused him of breaking a dressing room taboo by getting involved with the former partner of Bridge.
As Dave Bassett, the former Wimbledon and Sheffield Utd manager, put it: “I’ve had players who have left their missus or had bits and pieces on the side but they’ve not gone off with a team-mate’s bird. That’s crossing a line and where it comes unstuck with Terry.”
Capello could opt to take the view that events in Terry’s private life are none of his business and have no bearing on the player’s role with England.
But that line may be untenable if — as has been reported — Bridge is not willing to be part of an England squad led by Terry.
On the other hand, if he decides to drop Terry in order to accommodate Bridge, Capello will be accused of undermining England’s chances of winning the World Cup in South Africa later this year.
Capello returns to rule on captaincy
England coach Fabio Capello has returned to the country to determine whether John Terry can remain captain of the national team amid a sex scandal.
Capello refused to answer reporters’ questions about Terry’s future Thursday as he returned to London’s Heathrow Airport from Switzerland, where he has been recovering from a knee operation. Capello is set to meet Terry on Friday for the first time since allegations were made that the defender had a relationship with England teammate Wayne Bridge’s former partner.
Sponsorship deals hang in balance
Scandal hit England soccer star John Terry will not be the only one on tenterhooks on Thursday.
Sports sponsorship experts said yesterday that recent revelations about his private life would hit Terry’s future earnings, and brands associated with the player, who is also the captain of London’s high-flying Chelsea soccer club, would want to see how Capello’s decision played out in the media, and whether there were any further revelations to come, before taking a stand.
Umbro, the sports brand that is England’s kit supplier and is now owned by Nike, refused to comment yesterday on its GBP4m endorsement deal with Terry, while England’s sponsor, Nationwide, has made clear that it sponsors the team rather than individuals.