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Martin Roberts refuses to look back

Few things – not even politics – promote opinion and controversy like sport, which is half the reason it’s so central to modern culture and makes for such compelling viewing.

Currently two leading sportsmen – one a soccer player, the other a cricketer – who may have departed prematurely from their respective England national squads are in the news.

The first, Chelsea’s John Terry, now 33, announced his international retirement some eighteen months ago, in protest at the Football Association’s intention to hold an independent inquiry into the incident in which he had allegedly racially-abused fellow professional Anton Ferdinand, then a QPR defender. Although Terry had earlier been cleared of the charge in a related magistrate’s court criminal case, the FA commission then found him guilty and he was fined £220,000 and banned for four matches.

The reason for the current growing speculation about a potential return by Terry to England international duty in time for this year’s World Cup is simple. England has unresolved issues over its prospective defensive line-up and many regard Terry’s recent form as more than good enough to merit serious consideration for his inclusion in the squad for Brazil.

Apparently, according to a report on the website of the Daily Telegraph today, England manager Roy Hodgson is to pronounce shortly on this hot topic, see here – JOHN TERRY

Generally-speaking, I am not in favour of recalling ‘retired internationals’ – however exceptional the circumstances. Furthermore, John Terry comes with all sorts of baggage, including a rather ‘iffy’ record of alleged behind-the-scenes influence over fellow squad players.

In which regard, I recalled today with a smile the incident on our family’s trip to Turkey last summer when one of my brothers, having lost out in some sort of contest, was obliged by the other to wear an England football shirt emblazoned with ‘Terry’ on the back for the remainder of the holiday, including the flight home.

And showed considerable fortitude – I thought – in doing so!

pietersenThe second ex-international currently dominating the sports pages is, of course, cricketer Kevin Pietersen.

Recent events in his life have included a rash of allegations, counter-allegations and speculation about the circumstances of his England ‘departure’; a tortuous negotiation between his representatives and the ECB over the terms of his central contract ‘severance’; his signing for Surrey for some 20/20 and county cricket matches; and his auction this morning (UK time) in this season’s India’s IPL extravaganza.

Personally, I remain unmoved by the continuing controversy over his exit from the England set-up. Once you’re gone, you’re gone, is my attitude.

It doesn’t matter how forcefully Pietersen’s celebrity chums like Piers Morgan and David Cameron plea his cause, or indeed how successfully the PR campaigns of the pro- and anti- Pietersen camps saturate the media, the fact is that the England powers-that-be don’t want him around anymore.

What are the Pietersen supporters hoping to achieve?

His reinstatement?

Some “Ya, boo, sucks!” scenario in which the ‘new’ England squad flounders helplessly through the next two years whilst elsewhere Pietersen makes the headlines by notching a shedload of runs for the teams that have temporarily hired his services?

I just don’t get it.

He’s gone, guys – get over it!

About Martin Roberts

A former motoring journalist, Martin lists amongst his greatest achievements giving up smoking. Three times. He holds to the view that growing old is not for the faint-hearted. More Posts