Former captain John Terry was named to the England soccer squad for the 2012 European Championship as new manager Roy Hodgson left out fellow defender Rio Ferdinand.
Terry was chosen for the 23-man squad as he faces trial in July for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother Anton during a Premier League game between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers. Hodgson, who replaced Fabio Capello on May 1, said his decision was made strictly for soccer reasons and not because of any potential problems between Ferdinand and Terry.
“My decision with John Terry was based purely on football matters,” Hodgson said at a press conference today at Wembley Stadium. “I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked. I realized that when I selected him there would be people who would raise eyebrows but that’s the decision that I’ve made, that’s the decision I shall live with.”
Terry’s racial abuse charge led to his being stripped of the England captaincy for the second time by the Football Association. Hodgson said Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will be the captain at Euro 2012.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain received their first England call-ups. Liverpool striker Andy Carroll was also included as Stoke’s Peter Crouch was omitted and will be joined up front by Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who is suspended for the first two Euro matches, and Danny Welbeck and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe.
“I won’t deny it’s not been an easy squad to put together and it’s taken a lot of thought,” Hodgson said. “I’m pleased with the squad.”
Ferdinand has appeared in 81 games for England but never at the European Championship. The Manchester United defender was named England captain in February 2010 after Terry was stripped of the role for the first time over allegations about his personal life. The United player suffered a knee injury in training for the World Cup in South Africa and missed the tournament.
Ferdinand, 33, has been hampered by back problems the past few seasons and last played for England in a Euro qualifier against Switzerland in June 2011. He made 38 appearances for Manchester United this season.
His exclusion avoids any potential distraction of having the pair in the same dressing room. Terry, 31, was given the captain’s armband back by Capello in March of last year but once again lost it after the racial abuse charge, which he denies. His trial begins after the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
“In the last couple of days I’ve spoken to both of them and explained to them why I’ve come to the decision,” Hodgson said, without giving specifics.
Hodgson will manage his first game in an exhibition in Norway on May 26 before England plays its final warm-up match against Belgium seven days later at Wembley Stadium. England faces France in its Euro 2012 opener on June 11 and also meets Sweden and co-host Ukraine in the group stage of the championship.
ENGLAND SQUAD GOALKEEPERS: Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich). DEFENDERS: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea). MIDFIELDERS: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain (Arsenal), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United). FORWARDS: Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).