Both John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have removed themselves from the England set up.
Whilst the reasoning behind Terry’s retirement and Ferdinand’s pullout are very different (although perhaps non unrelated), both players will likely be missed sorely in the centre of their country’s back line – theirs are boots that are cumbersome to fill.
Terry retired from international football in the aftermath of his charge and subsequent punishment by the FA for his racist abuse of Rio Ferdinand’s brother Anton Ferdinand during a match between Chelsea and Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Ferdinand was excluded from Roy Hodgson’s England squad as Terry’s tribunal was on-going under what I shall refer to as controversial and bizarre circumstances involving the England manager, a train loan of tube passengers and some behind the scenes damage control from the FA relating to racism and their apparent disinterest in eradicating it from the game.
Ferdinand was recalled to the squad by Hodgson this month for England’s World Cup 2014 qualifiers against San Marino last week and the upcoming fixture against Montenegro.
However, Ferdinand ‘pulled out’ for fitness reasons, effectively claiming that his preparation routine is too complicated for England’s fitness and physiotherapy staff to wrap their heads around.
In my humble opinion, Ferdinand did the right thing – and by right I mean the brave, selfless and morally righteous thing of declining to participate with Hodgson after the way he spoke about him to those innocent bystanders on the tube and the ethical thing by sending a clear and resolute response to the FA for their appalling handling of the ‘racism row’ involving him and his brother.
He was courageous and showed character, conviction and grace - I applaud him for his stance. He will undoubtedly be England’s loss as will Terry, I hasten to add. Whilst I find him deplorable and despicable as a human being, he’s a decent defender and now Hodgson is without the two most experienced and talented centre-backs this country has to offer.
Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling are all very good defenders but they are not as experienced, determined or reliable as Ferdinand or Terry. At 34 and 32 years of age respectively and with 159 caps for their country between them, they are easily the most decorated at club level.
They have 664 Premier League appearances between them and counting and have won eight Premier League titles, 9 FA Cups, and two Champions League titles combined. Those are the kind of players you want in the your team when you go to the World Cup to face the world’s best.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, he has some making up to do – Terry is retired and frankly should have been pushed if he hadn’t jumped anyway. He is not fit to represent the country unless that country wants to project the image that they are ignorant imbeciles.
Ferdinand is exactly the kind of player who ought to represent his country and, if Hodgson’s smart, he’ll do all he can to convince him he belongs on that plane to Brazil. England can do without John Terry and all that comes with him but they need to have a leader in their back line.
Ferdinand has been that leader all season long for United – especially in the absence of Nemanja Vidic. He has proven himself yet again one of the world’s best and England will need him when they face the best the world throws at them in 2014.
image: © jorge-11