John Terry retires from international football ahead of FA racism charge
Chelsea's John Terry, right, holds back Stoke City's Jonathan Walters, centre, as he reacts to a foul during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, on Saturday Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Sang Tan)
Published Sunday, September 23, 2012 4:48PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 23, 2012 5:01PM EDT
LONDON -- Former England captain John Terry unexpectedly quit international football on Sunday before he was due to face a Football Association hearing on a racism charge, saying his place in the team had become "untenable."
Despite being cleared in court of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match last year, Terry was facing a lengthy ban if found guilty by an FA panel this week.
"I am today announcing my retirement from international football ... I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision," Terry said.
The 31-year-old Chelsea defender was fired as England captain in February but was allowed to continue playing for the national team.
"I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable," Terry said.
Terry has no plans to stop playing for the club at which he has spent his entire career.
"I now look forward to playing for Chelsea FC, and challenging for domestic and European honours," he said. "And I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support."
But the FA could still ban Terry for eight club matches, the punishment Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received last year for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in a game.
In the high-profile trial in July, prosecutors claimed Terry snapped in response to insults about an alleged extramarital affair and racially abused Ferdinand. But Terry said he only repeated the offensive term sarcastically that he was accused of using.
The magistrate who ruled on the case said in his judgment that Terry's explanation was "certainly under the cold light of forensic examination, unlikely." But he found Terry not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence after deciding it was "impossible" to be sure what the defender said.
However, there is a lower burden of proof in the FA charge, potentially putting England's football authorities in a difficult position about whether Terry could have played for the national team again.
Terry made his debut in 2003 against Serbia and Montenegro, and featured at the European Championship in June ahead of his trial.
"I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps," Terry said. "I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I've played with.
"I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career. Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour."
Terry was first stripped of the England captaincy before the 2010 World Cup following allegations he had an affair with teammate Wayne Bridge's former girlfriend.
After being reinstated a year later, Terry lost the England captaincy again when his racism trial was delayed until after Euro 2012. Fabio Capello quit as England coach, unhappy that Terry lost the captaincy against his wishes.