I always thought that what you did in your private life should remain that. Isn't that why it's called a private life? John Terry is finding that what goes on in his private life is anything but. British newspapers have been full of stories about his alleged affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge this week. I'm not condoning what has gone on, but it's a private matter. In Spain or Italy, private lives are respected as such. Nobody expects footballers to behave perfectly in their personal business - and most don't. In Britain, the media have imposed a different moral code.
People talk about footballers being role models. OK, I accept that kids will look up to footballers and mimic their actions on the pitch, but I've yet to meet a footballer who has asked to be put on a pedestal for what happens off it. More often than not, they are working-class lads from tough backgrounds who are very good at their job. They have often got to where they are against all odds and contribute a lot to society, be it in taxes or entertainment. Is that not enough? And yet I've heard footballers blamed for so many of society's ills; from knife crime in London to greed. I can't help but think that there's a little bit of jealousy.
Terry should be judged by what happens on the football field. That is what he is paid to do and he does it very well. If what went on in his private life was affecting his job then critics would have a point, but I don't think anyone can find fault with his performances either for Chelsea or England. Chelsea have decided to stick by him and they have made the right decision. We'll have to wait a little longer to see what happens with England.
Terry has issues he needs to sort out with Bridge, but they can sort it out between them. It won't be comfortable for either of them, but it's between the two of them. It's not just in football that people fall out or don't get on and their disagreements don't need to affect either of them doing their job if they play together for England. I didn't get on with Teddy Sheringham when we played together at Manchester United. The other players and the manager knew it, but nothing was said. It was simple: I didn't like him and he didn't like me.
I didn't bad mouth him to other players and he didn't call me. But when we went out on the pitch, we were nothing but professional. We played well together and did very well together and that's all that mattered. He was a work colleague; I didn't need to be best mates with him. The hypocrisy of some journalists and politicians stinks. They have mock sympathy for people involved in the Terry story when they have made the story worse by printing it. Some have many skeletons in their own closets, yet they preach values which they don't keep to themselves. So who are they to pass judgement on John Terry or Tiger Woods, when they are not armed with the full story?
I know "JT" and like him; we always get on fine when we see each other. I played against him many times and he was a tough opponent. He's an old fashioned centre half like Nemanja Vidic. He likes to play physical and push you about and he's very good at that. My solution to that would be to score a goal. We didn't wind each other up on the pitch because I was not the kind of player who was into the verbal wind ups. I was completely focused on winning, nothing else, but I respected Terry and I know other players feel the same.
He'll get loads of abuse off rival fans when he plays because of the articles in every paper, but that's part of a pantomime and they are not difficult to shut out when you are playing. People are saying that he's not fit to be England captain, but they are judging him by what they think has gone on behind closed doors. Fabio Capello, the England coach, will make that decision because he's best qualified to, not tabloid newspapers.
That's Capello's job and he's a wise old master who has seen it all before - and more. He'll be wondering what all the fuss is about, coming from a culture where private indiscretions are kept as that. A culture where questions are asked and suspicions raised if you really are squeaky clean perfect. Because not many people are in life, let alone football. A disciplinarian, Capello will do what is right for the England team. He's done an excellent job so far and is hugely respected for how he deals with his players in all respects. We have all seen the upturn in results which have come with his arrival. Now he has to make decisions based on what has happened off it.
@Email:email@example.com Andrew Cole, a former Manchester United player, is the second all-time Premier League top-scorer with 187 goals.