Emotional Terry picks up pieces
John Terry's bleary eyes betrayed a sleepless night and maybe even a hint of the "overwhelming" emotion of reclaiming the England captain's armband after Fabio Capello's brief address to his squad at London Colney.
Capello's reinstatement of Terry has met with a mixed reception, and the man who lost the honour 13 months ago amid claims about his private life admits he will not be "everybody's cup of tea" after replacing Rio Ferdinand.
But even those of us who expressed reservations about Terry's reinstatement and the manner in which it was handled by Capello could not fail to be impressed by his performance in front of the media at England's Hertfordshire headquarters on Tuesday.
Terry, who will lead England in Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium, was humble but still bristled with moments of defiance as he made it clear several times that he disagreed with Capello's initial decision to strip him of the captaincy.
After the muddled messages and miscommunication that preceded the removal of Ferdinand and Terry's restoration, Capello formally reintroduced the 30-year-old Chelsea defender as permanent captain to his team-mates before training at Arsenal's base on Tuesday.
He has already been contacted by England squad members past and present with messages of support following Capello's willingness to reverse a decision he once claimed was irreversible.
And Terry is unconcerned his reappointment ahead of the popular Manchester United defender may strike a divisive chord, insisting no-one in England's squad had expressed any open discontent.
He said: "It's not important. At any football club, and we're no different, there are certain players who don't get on with everybody. That's not just football it's life itself, but I would respect it if people came to me personally rather than hearing things and listening to people.
"The manager pulled the group together and asked if anybody had any questions and no-one said a word" - although reality dictates that it would take a brave, not to mention highly self-destructive, individual to raise a hand and take issue with Capello in such circumstances.
Ferdinand, understandably devastated by his sudden demotion, contacted Terry by text before Chelsea's win against Manchester City on Sunday and again in a 15-minute conversation following the game to offer his good wishes, a gesture appreciated by someone well acquainted with the hurt of losing the accolade.
Terry's appointment with the media was brought forward from the eve of Saturday's game in a bid to draw the sting from the captaincy debate. It was a shrewd move, but is unlikely to spare Capello from a searching inquisition about his own handling of the line of succession in Cardiff on Friday.
The man who said he was "born to do this stuff" during his now infamous Rustenburg rallying cry as England's South African World Cup campaign disintegrated - something that was always regarded here as a message that needed conveying as opposed to an attempted coup against a weakened Capello - insists he has lived, learned and moved on.
And Capello's faith in Terry's leadership quality has even survived the very public rebuke the Italian delivered for what he condemned as "a big mistake" in declaring his concerns to the world - an act he now accepts was a misjudgement.
Terry was perceived in some quarters as a man driven by revenge when he embarked on his speech inside the Royal Bafokeng Sports campus in June, embittered by Capello's decision to replace him with Ferdinand, but his main regret was expressing his thoughts publicly.
"I think people took it the wrong way certainly." said Terry. "I can look back knowing I did what I had to do but I certainly won't do it again, not publicly. It will be kept in house. That's not me, upsetting the applecart, the manager and the squad."
Terry's sense of injustice, stated without bitterness, still lingers about how he was sacked in a 12-minute meeting with Capello and right-hand man Franco Baldini at Wembley last February after claims about an alleged relationship with the ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge, but his delight at getting the captaincy back was self-evident.
He said: "It's a massive thing for me. The emotion is quite overwhelming. I had the worst night's sleep. I was pretty nervous coming in here today and having to deal with all the questions. It was like the first day back at school, quite intimidating, even though I have been in this situation many times before."
Terry revealed his pride in being England captain extends to a refusal to part with any of his treasured armbands, now on display at home. And there will be a sharper spotlight trained on him as he adds another to a collection he thought had closed with that brief meeting with Capello and Baldini at Wembley.
"It will make me very proud again. Every time you pull on the shirt, and then the armband, it is a very special thing."
He is acutely aware that his contentious return to the captaincy will be a prime exhibit in the case for Capello's prosecution should Wales ratchet up the pressure another notch by beating England in Cardiff.
"I'm not daft," he said. "If we go there and win the game it will be a big stepping stone for us, but if we go there and don't get the right result I know where the finger will be pointed. I'm a grown man and I'm prepared to deal with that."
Now Terry will able to deal with from the place he prefers - by leading England from the front as captain once more.