John Terry wore the captain’s armband with pride in Cardiff yesterday as he led England to a priceless Euro 2012 qualifying triumph against Wales – and warned that rival Rio Ferdinand’s international days might be numbered.
Terry, controversially reappointed England captain last week, shrugged off that furore and silenced the Welsh booboys with a towering display to send Fabio Capello’s new-look team to the top of Group G.
Terry even warned that his rock-solid partnership with Michael Dawson could mean Ferdinand, the man he deposed as England captain, will struggle to get back into the team.
While the injured Manchester United centre-back was tweeting his support for his team-mates, Dawson was producing a commanding effort alongside Terry, who said: ‘There’s a lot of competition for the central defensive positions but I thought Dawson has made it his own.’
The Chelsea defender had a hand in Frank Lampard’s penalty opener – it was Terry’s pass that sent Ashley Young into the area, where he was upended by James Collins – then led the celebrations when Darren Bent smashed in the second.
It was a display that more than justified Capello’s decision to make Terry captain again, a year after he was stripped of the honour following a series of lurid headlines about his private life.
The England boss, who has vowed to meet Ferdinand this week to explain his decision, said: ‘All the players played well but John Terry is an experienced player.’
Terry could not have wished to end a difficult week on a better note – and he believed it was an ear-splitting chorus of Welsh boos that greeted the playing of God Save The Queen before kick-off that was the inspiration England needed to put the Welsh in their place.
‘They were booing the National Anthem and the players were very pumped up because of that,’ he said. ‘The players are very proud and ready for the game but when you hear that you get pumped up even more. We showed that from the start.
‘When you go away you expect things like that but, when you hear it, it makes you stick your chest out even more. You can hear the English fans singing and you want to do it for them as well as yourself.’
Terry was also quick to pay tribute to Capello for the tactical change that turned what might have been a tricky fixture into a match that was effectively over midway through the first half.
Capello had gambled with a 4-3-3 formation, with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young operating wide, and Terry said: ‘I thought we played very well, especially in the first half.
‘The formation from the manager was very positive and that vibe got around the dressing room. ‘We worked on 4-3-3 during the week. We pressed them hard and we made it difficult for them to play out.’
The captaincy row shows no sign of going away after Terry suggested Dawson had done enough to keep Ferdinand out of the team for England’s next qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley in June. While the injured Manchester United centre-back was tweeting his support for his team-mates, Dawson was producing an outstanding effort alongside Terry.
The Chelsea defender said: ‘He has gained a lot of valuable experience in the Champions League.
‘Big competitions breed big players and he has certainly done well in the last couple of games.’
Terry’s glowing view of his new defensive partner will not have been lost on Ferdinand, who is sidelined with a calf injury and has made just one England appearance this season.
Dawson said: ‘All I can do is play well when I get the chance and prove to the manager that I am worth it. ‘There is a lot of competition but I hope to be given my chance.’
Capello plans peace talks with Ferdinand this week, saying: ‘I will speak to him about what really happened and explain my decision.’
Copyright 2011 by The Daily Mail