sports gazette

John Terry: The Soap Opera

Published: 24 May 2017

If you were watching Sky Sports News or BBC’s Football Focus on Sunday 21st May, you would have been forgiven if you thought you had sat on the remote, changed channels and started watching your most beloved soap-opera.

There was a main character, a plot twist and of course over-dramatics, but what else do you expect from Chelsea legend and ego-maniac John Terry?

It was his final game at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea Football Club as his 22-year-tenure in West London finally came to an end. Although no-one can argue against Terry’s loyalty towards his football club, and that his time at Chelsea is understandably celebrated by the Chelsea faithful, the way in which it was celebrated was just…bizarre.

It was the final game of the season and Chelsea were already confirmed champions elite of the English Premier League. Their opponents Sunderland were already condemned to the Championship after a bitterly disappointing campaign under former Everton hero and Sir Alex Ferguson shadow David Moyes.

The game reached the 26th minute, mirroring the shirt number Terry has worn throughout his career with the Blues. Then, the game stopped. A substitute was preparing to jog onto the pitch. Surely not?

The fourth official raised his arms aloft, most likely stroking Terry’s narcissism on the way up, and lit up number 26. What is expected, and highly more professional, would involve Terry clapping the fans, walking towards the touchline, and hugging Italian coach Antonio Conte.

However, Terry has made a career out of his unpredictability and why should his final game be any different?

He started hugging each and every player he could steal into his grasp, with a sense of ‘you will love me’ etched on his face. Bearing in mind that this was in the middle of a football match, this took some time. Then, without irony or agenda, the Chelsea players lined up to form a guard of honour for the man, which of course he accepted with expectancy.

Two things come to mind. Firstly, David Moyes, who has since resigned his positon as Sunderland boss was quoted saying: “We knew it was coming and agreed to put the ball out.” Did John Terry play for Sunderland?

Unless he had a secret term up north earning the respect of those in red and white, I see no reason why Sunderland should willingly volunteer to kick the ball out of play to massage the egos of opponents, especially after such a disastrous season.

Secondly, it has later come out that the whole affair was the idea of the main genius himself John Terry. He spoke to Sky Sports saying: "I had a discussion with the manager – I think he wanted to get the boys that didn’t play on Monday night against Watford and give them a run out. So I kind of negotiated with him to play 26 minutes and come off. It was a compromise between the two of us"

Then, without irony or agenda, the Chelsea players lined up to form a guard of honour for the man, which of course he accepted with expectancy.

Was the thought of playing 22 years at a club, earning multi-millions, having the adulation of the Stamford loyalists for decades, playing in his final match despite not being first choice anymore, delivering an admittedly heartfelt speech to the stadium in front of his admiring family and having the respect of all in attendance not enough for one man’s pride?

The nearest recent comparison is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who saw his last game at Anfield rightly worship him before the match with tributes, throughout the match with chants, and after the match with the opportunity to speak to those who honoured him with career on Merseyside.

Compared to Mr Terry, this showed an elegance and class that didn’t need the glitter parade that Terry so forcefully expected.

Perhaps this is harsh on the man. After all, he has been ever-present for one club, showing endless loyalty and passion, continuously putting his body on the line for his teammates, past and present managers and his ever-loving supporters. He has been an England international and captain, played at the highest level, and more than contained some of the best attacking players the world has produced.

There is no doubting the footballer, but there was a sense of egotism blindness at Stamford Bridge on Sunday which for many spoilt the event. He has stated that he isn’t thinking of retiring.

Let’s just hope wherever he ends up has a freshly clean, bright red carpet ready for him to walk down prior to each kick-off.

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