On the pitch, John Terry is the embodiment of the power, passion and dedication that marks out any great leader. Throughout his career at Chelsea and for England, the 29-year-old has put his body on the line. Managers across the world would kill to have some like Terry in their team.

There is no doubt that he is a fantastic player, but as a man he leaves a lot to be desired.

Normally I am ready to overlook a player’s indiscretions off the field if he performs on it.

Ashley Cole is a case in point. His acrimonious falling out with Arsenal is well-documented. He cheated on his wife Cheryl (absolute madness if you ask me) and on Friday he was fined £1,000 and banned from driving for four months after being caught doing 104mph in a 50 zone.

On the field though, he is a brilliant left back, one of the best in the world.

But Terry is different. He is the leader of his country. He should be held up to a much higher standard. He should be an example for others to follow.

If the papers are to be believed, he didn’t just have an affair with anybody - he slept with his ex-team mate’s girlfriend, got her pregnant and then arranged for an abortion.

When Wayne Bridge left Chelsea last January for Manchester City – a club Terry nearly joined in the summer - the Chelsea skipper said: “He’ll be missed and I’m still in shock a little bit, because it’s a shame to see one of the lads go who you have grown up with and been with a long time. I’m disappointed but for him it was the right decision. He was great to have around the place.”

The pair were clearly good friends.

Bridge is said to be ‘in bits’ after finding out about the affair, and who can blame him? How would you feel if someone you thought was one of your best friends was sleeping with your girlfriend?

Of course everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect. The problem is, this is not an isolated incident. Terry has done this before. Most people learn from their mistakes. Terry hasn’t. In 2005 he said: “I’ve mis-behaved and slept with girls behind her [wife Toni Terry’s] back. I’m not going to cheat on her ever again and I want to marry her more than anything.”

The affair could affect dressing room unity just four months before the start of the World Cup.

Noises coming out of the Football Association’s headquarters is that the decision will ultimately rest with manager Fabio Capello. He will have to decide how damaging this affair is. Should what a player gets up to in his private life affect his profession? Such a judgement is not black and white. This fling blurs the distinctions between the two.

Losing the captaincy would be a crushing blow to Terry. He clearly wears it with pride. Sympathy would not be forthcoming, because, in the end, he would have no one to blame but himself.

Comments

Some Manchester City players wore special "Team Bridge" t-shirts during their 2-0 over Pompey today.

And before the eyes start to roll at the site of 'The Times Online', the BBC had it too.

It's good to see the unity but... I would find it quite embarrassing. To me, it would be bad enough knowing that a man who appears to have the personal qualities of a plastic bag can pull my girlfriend. I certainly wouldn't want it commemorated with special t-shirts as if I was the last survivor of a plane crash or something. 

 

John Terry: A misdemeanor too far