Anorak News | Captain Courageous

Captain Courageous

by | 4th, July 2006

BRIAN “Woolly” Woolnough, the Star’s respected football writer, is a man who sports an impressive coiffeur. One gets the feeling that if his house caught fire he wouldn’t leave until he had checked that there wasn’t a hair out of place.

Today he turns his attention to Chelsea skipper John Terry, the man widely expected to be the next captain of England. Woolly is keen on him, and no wonder. He writes that after every game, Terry “goes to all his team mates and asks if they can look in the mirror”.

But Woolly’s point is not that Chelsea’s players are well groomed and immaculately turned-out – although they are, of course. His point is that Terry makes sure that they can look honestly at themselves and know that they have done their job to the best of their ability.

John Terry is in stark contrast to David Beckham. He looks as if he’s in his forties, as footballers did back in the black-and-white days. (Indeed, with Steve McClaren appearing ever more youthful, we could soon have an international team captain who looks older than his manager – a feat Terry has already achieved at club level.) Terry’s character is also reminiscent of a bygone age, and will be a welcome break from the celebrity circus that surrounds Beckham and has expanded to take in most of the England camp.

Woolly points out that as a no-nonsense teenager, Terry bollocked Gianfranco Zola on the training ground and crocked manager Gianluca Vialli. He reckons that Steve McClaren’s image is of ‘a man lacking in personality’, and that JT can help him win the nation’s confidence. As an illustration of Terry’s courage, Woolly recalls how he stayed on the pitch after having his leg gashed by Wayne Rooney, because he wanted to lift the Premiership trophy after the match. “It was only pain and as captain you have to lead by example,” said Terry. Echoes of Dave Mackay playing with a broken leg: “The pain can wait.”

Being crocked by Rooney is an occupational hazard of being an England player, as the volatile striker likes to put himself about on the training ground. But at the moment Wayne is keen to play down his aggressive side.

The Times has “exclusive” evidence that quarter-final referee Horacio Elizondo had intended sending Rooney off for “violent play”, and claims to have been uninfluenced by Cristiano Ronaldo’s interference. This news has repercussions for the whole affair. Rooney himself is busy telling all the papers that his stamp was not a stamp at all, but an accidental dragging of the foot. Meanwhile both Rooney and Ronaldo are busy trying to build bridges now that the departure of the Portuguese winger/winker from Old Trafford looks less certain.

The Guardian reports that because the Real Madrid presidential election did not go the way Ronaldo’s advisers expected, the United player might not be on his way to the Bernabeu. “There is no problem between me and Rooney,” he announce via his advisers’ website. “At the end of the game we exchanged a series of text message just as we had the day before.” Whether the tone of the texts was the same, he doesn’t say. Perhaps Rooney’s promise to “split him in two” was a joke, or, who knows, part of some private sex game. One thing is for sure, though: behind the scenes there is a huge amount of patching-up and damage limitation going on.

England’s former backroom boys have no need to worry about diplomacy. “BOTTLER,” says the Sun. “Top England coach slams Carragher.” Well, yes and no. Former England fitness coach Ivan Carminati dismisses as a “joke” Jamie Carragher’s claim that he didn’t know he had to wait for the ref’s whistle before taking his penalty. It’s hard to disagree with this assessment, but it’s also hard to see where the Sun gets the “bottler” bit. “Normally Carragher is a good penalty taker,” says the not-really-very-offensive Italian, “but anything can happen when the pressure gets to you.”

The World Cup post-mortem looks likely to rumble on for days, but in the meantime, there are lots of other things for the papers to get excited about. Like Andy Murray, for example.

What’s that?… Oh dear.

Posted: 4th, July 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink