Wayne Bridge has shunned England and declared himself unavailable for the world cup in South Africa. The defender, who has been at the centre of a media maelstrom since news broke over an alleged affair between John Terry and his former partner, Vanessa Perroncel.
In a statement to the press, Bridge referred to his position with the England Camp as “untenable and divisive.” Bridge went on to say that “I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection. I have today informed the management of this decision. I wish the team all the very best in South Africa.” This stands in stark contrast with Fabio Capello’s conviction earlier in the week that Wayne Bridge would be starting in the game against Egypt.
Proof, if it were needed, that events off the pitch can spill over and affect the composition of those on it was confirmed in this shock statement issued. There has been much debate over recent weeks regarding the role of professional footballers over whether events in their private lives should remain private or be publicized and chewed over by the general public. Bridge, it seems, has taken enough and has put himself in the media spotlight here so that he will eventually be able to withdraw from the issue. No doubt the players decision is partly to do with the belief that the public would continue to question his feelings of animosity towards John Terry and his impact on the England squad consistently, up to and including the finals themselves in June.
Although Bridge has potentially exposed himself to some criticism for putting personal feelings before national pride and patriotism, one could argue that he is perfectly entitled to do so. While John Terry will no doubt squirm as uncomfortably as he is able to at this news, he should take on board that his role within the squad was not just team mate and captain, but a respected colleague and, he claims, former friend. Bridge’s announcement shows the impact that this betrayal has had on him, and for all the hype, has shown that he is a human being who has been put in a position that most would sympathize with. It is one thing to cheat on your wife, but to do so with a colleague and friend is the ultimate betrayal; this is just as true for everyone as it is for international footballers.
Bridge has decided that he cannot forgive and forget and sweep his issues with John Terry under the carpet for the sake of the England football team. Whether this is commendable or not is a different question, but the Manchester City defender has emphasized to the squad, the nation and to Terry that the Chelsea defender remains unforgiven.
There seems to be ample cover for the injured Ashley Cole at left back by highlighting the qualities of Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock. It is worth remembering too, that on a footballing level Bridge has been unspectacular at international level, and that the squad is likely to contain both James Milner and Gareth Barry, who can both play left back if necessary. Therefore it seems that the biggest problem facing Capello is not filling the positional void left by Bridges withdrawal from the squad. Rather, he needs to bring together a squad that may be in jeopardy of separating itself on moral grounds.