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A Game Apart


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Thursday, 25 February 2010

I got it wrong calling Bridge a wimp on Sky News. He's done the honourable thing. Unlike John Terry

I GOT IT wrong on Sky News this morning. I called Wayne Bridge a wimp when they rushed me in to Isleworth for a first response to the news. The statement was gloriously straightfoward and to the point. And it has got the entire football-speaking world talking.
The Manchester City left back, this week backed for a World Cup berth by coach Fabio Capello, said: "I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks.
"It has always been an honour to play for England. However, after careful thought I believe my position in the squad is now untenable and potentially divisive.
"Sadly therefore I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection.
"I have today informed the management of this decision. I wish the team all the very best in South Africa."
First thought? This has happened to me. When my twins, now 22, were three, their mother left me for a younger bloke, the brother of a friend. All his mates played for the French Horn, our rival team in the village. On the common a few Sundays later, we had to play them. Everybody knew the story. I wanted to kill the guy and his mates. He had relentlessly pursued my wife knowing she was suffering from post-natal depression.
I wanted to run away, never mind walk away like Bridge. But I knuckled down, played the game, got through it. Proved I still had a life, pride, honour. The guy's still out there, my ex-wife and I are friends but I brought the kids up without her support for 18 years. I'd still like to catch him in a dark alley. He knows who he is. But that game, that confrontation - not without its flare-ups - helped me get through it.
And that's what I thought Bridge should have done. Knuckle down, confront the demon Terry, a former best-mate (see picture above) who had an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of his child.
So I told the world (at least that tiny bit of it which watches Sky News) I thought Bridge had wimped out. It was re-run several times this afternoon. Ah, the expert analyst. Superb. Not.
Tracy, my new wife, took me to task. She feels Bridge has done the honourable thing. Withdrawn to give England a chance. To keep the dressing room on a level keel.
Whether Bridge plays for Manchester City against his old team and former best pal this weekend is not the point.
What he's done, she said, is sacrificed his place at the World Cup for England's sake. I saw it in that awful masculine way. By standing down he had let Terry humiliate him again.
Wrong. Terry should have been the one to withdraw but as he hasn't and is such an important part of the World Cup plan for Fabio Capello, Bridge made the brave decision to walk away.
Imagine the pain that bloke has been through. Nobody is actually sure when the affair between Terry and Perroncel began. But it ended in an abortion and a pay-off. Whether Bridge had actually moved up north by the time Terry started his diversions on the way home from training or not, we don't know. But the flirting had been going on for months.
There was talk of other affairs, of further lurid details, but all that came to a halt when Perroncel and publicist Max Clifford decided not to run with her side of the story amid rumours of a £750,000 pay off.
We will never know the full extent of Terry's betrayal. And remember, Perroncel was close to his wife Toni, mother of twins of a similar age to his boy, too.
Bridge's heart is broken. His spirit low. Trust in Terry, the senior player, crushed. But he has returned to play for City and his boss Roberto Mancini insists he is the best left back in the country with Ashley Cole, another Chelsea man of loose morals, out following ankle surgery.
But when the side to play Egypt next Wednesday is picked on Saturday night, Leighton Baines is likely to get the call now. Bridge has given up his chance of immortality in South Africa this summer.
And for that he must be applauded. Quite how we greet Terry at Wembley next Wednesday I'm not sure. But here's a thought. If Terry, forced out as captain over this whole tawdry affair, gets injured before the World Cup, will Bridge return?
I for one certainly hope so.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

John Terry will miss the FA Cup fifth round - to spend Valentine's Day with the Missus. And a good thing too.

JOHN TERRY will miss Chelsea's FA Cup fifth round clash against Cardiff on February 13 - so he can spend Valentine's Day with his wife Toni.

Toni and her three-year-old twins are in Dubai - they flew off when news broke of the England captain's affair with Vanessa Peroncel, the former partner of England squad member Wayne Bridge, who left Chelsea for Manchester City last year.
Chelsea have said from the start they would support their captain through the current turmoil and allowing him to miss the Cardiff clash.
Tonight played at the KC Stadium, and was booked in the 1-1 draw against Hull, having scored the winner against Burnley over the weekend despite the furore going on around him.
And I've been at Sky News, watching the game on a live feed, having already been on once talking about his future as England captain. I'm about to go on again at 10.45pm with a recorded piece for Sunrise in the morning. I'm backing the man, who played well again last night. He has to remain our nation's footballing leader, despite his failings.
Initially I was sceptical. Now, having read what the average fans and readers of this blog think - not to mention my own 13-year-old Charlie - I've come the full circle.
Forget what the moralists are saying. Keep Terry in charge. His potential replacements as captain, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard, all have various skeletons in their cupboards.
All footballers think they're above the law, above morality. We've made them like that. It's the modern world. As I just said on Sky, the Royal Family, Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have all been there, done that.
Sure, Terry ended up doing it with his former team-mate, but Bridge is by no means a vital part of the World Cup squad. And his partner Vanessa, mother of his child and former best friend of the Terrys, is hardly covering herself in glory either.
The woman who allegedly aborted Terry's love child has now turned to Max Clifford for help with her publicity - and the bidding is ongoing. Not exactly saintly, but that nice Mr Clifford says his client, a lingerie model, is "upset" by thoughts of how Terry's wife and her former partner Bridge might be feeling following the reports of the affair.
I bet she is. In truth, it's the other names on Vanessa's list of conquests (another Premier League star is sweating heavily, according to the Mirror) which Max will be looking to maximise. Best John and Toni have a good Valentine's Day and Ms Perroncel - who apparently met with Bridge today - can spill the beans without too much damage. Then we can concentrate on the World Cup... and the Terrys can concentrate on their twins.
Terry's major problem could be Capello's religious views. The Italian, 69, is quoted as saying: "I'm very Catholic and I am not all in favour of the current law on abortion.
"I like the Pope, the Church needs a traditionalist turn.
"I am someone who prays twice a day, in the morning and evening, wherever I find myself."

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