Chelsea player John Terry is a name familiar to soccer fans all over the world but especially to those in the UK, as he was until this week the captain of the England football team.
A successful player on the field, he is a controversial figure away from it and he has over the years been embroiled in a seemingly endless series of scandals and PR disasters. In 2001 he was fined for an incident involving American tourists in a bar during the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; a year later he was charged with assault and affray after a nightclub incident but was eventually acquitted.
That same year, he was fined for parking his luxury car in a disabled parking space. He kept out of trouble for a good while after that, but in 2010 - by which time he had held the England captaincy for four years - newspaper reports alleged he had engaged in a four-month affair with the long-term girlfriend of a fellow England player.
The fallout from that incident, which had the tabloid press in a frenzy, led to Terry being removed of the England captaincy. He was reinstated a year later but in November 2011 he was in the headlines again, this time being accused of racially abusing a rival player during a league game. He was interviewed by police and subsequently charged with using racist language (he allegedly called the player a ‘fuc-ing black c-nt.’)
Terry will have his day in court soon and he vigorously denies the charge, which he intends to fight “tooth and nail”. But he pointedly refused to vacate the England captaincy while the furore was at its height and so the Football Association of England stripped him of that role - again - last week.
Ross Pearson is just one of many English sports fans who feel that Terry should have handed the captain’s armband back long before he had it forcibly taken from him. In fact Pearson, who sees his public profile as a position of responsibility, does not think Terry should ever have been allowed to hold the prestigious position in the first place.
“I think it was the right decision, definitely. He is not captain material and not fit to be the leader of the team, or to lead the country into competition. He is not a role model for kids and he is not a role model for other professionals,” he tells Fighters Only Magazine.
“He is not a good sportsman and I think that stripping him of the captaincy was only right, the captain is supposed to lead by example and if the examples you are setting are the kin that Terry has been setting, well, you don’t want players or fans following that example.
“If he had that fundamental sporting decency he would have resigned the captaincy rather than wait to have it taken away from him. But looking at the way he behaves it doesn’t seem like he is a particularly decent person anyway so no surprise he had to be pushed.
“The right approach would have been to stand up, be a man, resign the captaincy while this scandal and investigation is going on and then if he is cleared, he could take it up again, instead of dragging the England captaincy through the mud the way it is now.”
Terry’s various lapses of judgement over the years not only cause Pearson to shake his head, they also make his hands twitch. So disgusted is he with what he sees as a total disregard for sporting conduct and the responsibilities of being a role model that he would welcome the opportunity to “knock some sense” into the former England captain.
“Sometimes you see these charity boxing matches and so on? I think it would be great if the UFC did something like that and I think there would be a LOT of people would like to see me go up against John Terry if they did. I would soon knock some sense into him,” Pearson says.
“Or let me play in one of these charity football matches against him, I’d definitely put a few good tackles in on him and give him a knock or two, see how tough he is then. I would also show him what proper sportsmanship is though. For instance I would never kick a man when he is down - but I might follow him to the ground and choke him out, like we do in my sport.”
A Sunderland lad by birth, Pearson’s ascent to the top of the UFC world - he is one fight away from a world title challenge which could make him the first Brit ever to win a UFC title - has seen him move his training camp to San Diego in the last twelve months, in order to sharpen his wrestling and jiu jitsu skills.
On December 30th he made a mark in the featherweight division with a one-sided shutout of Brazil’s Junior Assuncao and now Pearson is looking for the UFC to match him with their top contender, whoever they consider that to be. Pearson has a few names in mind, but he particularly fancies the ridiculously durable South Korean fighter Chan Sung-Jung, who revels in the nickname ‘Korean Zombie’.
“I just fell that the Korean Zombie is the next in line to be a contender for the title,” Pearson says when asked why he recently called for the UFC to match him with the South East Asian fighter next.
“But I don’t care if its him or Kenny Florian or Diego Nunes - I want to fight right at the top, I want to fight the number one contender then fight for the title. So whoever the UFC thinks is next in line to fight for the title, I want to be fighting him, because I want to be next in line.
“Its been a month and a half since my last fight, I’ve not heard anything about my next opponent but I have got no injuries and I am ready to go, I’ve had a little bit of down time now so I can start camp straight away.”
Meanwhile, Pearson is also one of a few professional fighters who think that the judges were correct to award Carlos Condit the win over Nick Diaz at the weekend, although he shared fan disappointment in the lacklustre nature of the bout.
“I think it was the right decision but I don’t think it was a great fight. I think a rematch would go the same way because that’s clearly the only gameplan that they would employ against Diaz but the fans didn’t get the fight that they wanted, it wasn’t what it was hyped up to be,” he opines.
“But that’s the sport. At the end of the day he stuck to his plan and won his fight.”