The John Terry question: Do you want this man's hands on the World Cup?
If there are extra-time and penalties, as in the last World Cup final, then it could be approaching midnight on July 11 in Johannesburg when the captain of the winning nation prepares to settle his hands on the famous gleaming, gold trophy. Prior to the weekend there were many England supporters dreaming that those hands would belong to John Terry. Now a lot of those same people are not so sure. Whatever the outcome of Terry's alleged infidelities with the ex-partner of a friend and former Chelsea team-mate, Wayne Bridge, his reputation and his hands have been sullied. He is under extreme scrutiny and pressure. Leading the country: But John Terry's position as England captain has now been called into question We await Fabio Capello's take on the affair, but what Capello said about the role of captain shortly after his appointment as England manager two years ago suggests the Italian will find Terry's alleged behaviour difficult to tolerate. Capello said then: 'A captain must be an example to follow in training and a leader during the game. And, of course, I would hope he could be an example, a role model outside the game - in life - as well. 'That's very important, always. Not just for the England captain, but for everything that we, as sportsmen, show youngsters. That is very important. He has to be an example.' HAVE YOUR SAY... Should Terry be stripped of the England captaincy? John Terry has been named as having an affair with the ex-girlfriend of team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is claimed to have cheated behind his wife's back with Vanessa Perroncel. Do you think he should be dumped as skipper? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK If Capello was mouthing more than platitudes, then Terry will be in for a stern conversation when they meet. So far Terry has been robust, some say cocky. Perhaps he thinks he knows Capello's mindset, perhaps he thinks he can ride it all out until the next furore comes along - they are quite frequent in football - or perhaps he knows more about this captaincy lark than he lets on. Maybe he is aware, for example, that World Cup-winning captains down the decades have had the odd blemish and that, for all the dismay there might be in middle England should he lift the trophy in July, it would be incomparable, for instance, to the global sourness that would greet the captain of France holding it aloft. One of the less remarked upon features of Thierry Henry's notorioushandball against the Republic of Ireland in Paris last November wasthat the striker's culpable left hand was on the end of an arm with acaptain's band around it. The Irish scarcely needed a tricolourinsult to add to such an injustice and FIFA will once again becorrectly scorned for their 'fair play' campaign when it crops up inSouth Africa. In terms of credibility, the last thing they can affordis for Henry to be lifting the cup. Four years ago, it is unknown if FIFA chief Sepp Blatter was secretlywishing Fabio Cannavaro would not raise the World Cup in Berlin. In theweeks before that tournament, Italian football was engulfed by theCalciopoli match-fixing scandal that would see Juventus - Cannavaro'sclub - relegated to Serie B and stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie Atitles. Captain's role? Thierry Henry's infamous handball against the Republic of Ireland Blatter will have been aware that, seven years earlier, Cannavaro, then a Parma player, filmed himself being injected in a Moscow hotel room the night before the Uefa Cup final against Marseille. Parma won 3-0. 'This is the final proof that we all stink,' Cannavaro says in jest. 'Look at how low we've sunk.' The substance injected was not banned, but the jest seemed less funny when the tape made it into the public domain. In conspiracy-riddled Italy, the belief is that such misdemeanours cost them the right to host the 2012 European Championship. With the campaign to host the 2018 World Cup ongoing, the Terry situation will be monitored by that branch of the FA. England's traditional emphasis on the captain-leader is not followed everywhere. Sometimes countries merely hand the responsibility to the most-capped player. One place where it is taken seriously is Argentina. Their captain is Liverpool's Javier Mascherano, who has known controversy in England due to his uncertain third-party ownership and a ridiculous red card at Old Trafford, but not scandal. The same cannot be said for the man who selects Mascherano. Diego Maradona lifted the World Cup at Mexico 86 but only after he had used his hand for a different purpose against England in the quarter-final. Maradona's extra-curricular activities then became legend. And self-destructing. Leading by example? Argentina coach Diego Maradona offers some advice to his captain Javier Mascherano. Maradona carried his Argentina team-mates with him in that tournament and, while the ultimate individual, Maradona knew about collectivism. Not long after taking the manager's job 14 months ago, he explained why he wanted Mascherano to be his leader. 'I want Mascherano to be my captain because I believe he is the Argentinian player who is closest to the idea I have about the Argentina shirt - sweat for it, sacrifice for it, being a professional, being close to the team-mate.' That is the sort of sentiment all 32 captains heading for South Africa would endorse, John Terry among them should he remain in post. They might not be stain-free individuals but presumably the likes of Iker Casillas of Spain, Lucio of Brazil and Aaron Mokoena of hosts South Africa know the difference between being close and getting close. 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