Miami: John Terry has spoken of his relief at being able to return to playing football following his acquittal on a charge of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
The Chelsea captain said he was “delighted to get back to football, concentrate on what I love doing” after the stress of the week-long trial and as he waits to find out whether he — and, potentially, Ferdinand — will now be charged by the Football Association.
Terry did not want to discuss the details of the case with the findings of the FA’s own inquiry looming and a decision expected over the next few days as to whether he faced the prospect of a suspension and a fine under rule E3, which prohibits improper conduct including “indecent or insulting words or behaviour”.
During the trial the 31-year-old denied racially abusing Ferdinand and was found not guilty although in his written judgment the chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, expressed some scepticism that Terry was simply repeating racist words as a denial.
Whether he is charged or not by the FA, Terry faces a testing campaign again with claims from sources close to some black players in the Premier League that they will snub him.
There will also be the barracking of away supporters to contend with and even during Wednesday’s friendly in Philadelphia against the MLS All-Stars, there were chants from some of the so-called “Sons of Ben” a fans group who follow the local club, Philadelphia Union, accusing Terry of being a racist.
Terry said he desperately hoped he could simply concentrate on playing because Chelsea have “some big games coming up and I’m looking forward to being part of that”.
Next month there is the Community Shield, the start of the Premier League season and then — as Champions League holders — the European Super Cup against Atletico Madrid. As European champions they will also feature in the Club World Cup in December.
Terry admitted that he had “only had a few days off” because of Euro 2012 and the trial following close on the exertions of the last campaign but said that he “felt good” and was fit and ready.
The captain will also help “settle in” some of the young, exciting attacking players Chelsea have acquired this summer, and who are on this tour, including Eden Hazard and Marko Marin.
“We are away a good couple of weeks. So it gives them a chance to find their feet,” he said. Also on the tour is Roman Abramovich and Terry said the Chelsea owner was a very visible presence.
“He’s down at the training ground, he’s around the hotel, he wants to know what’s going on, what kind of training we are doing,” the defender said. “It’s really refreshing to see and I think its good for the new players to see that, because I don’t think they have really seen that at previous clubs they have been at. But I have said before, the owner cares about this football club, and he shows that because he is always here with us.”
With more than £65 million (Dh375 million) already committed on acquiring Hazard, Marin and the latest signing, Oscar, and with two more players expected to be signed — Wigan’s Victor Moses for £9 million and Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta for £8 million are the immediate targets — pushing that spending to more than £80 million this summer then Abramovich has continued to signal his intent.
Terry said it was important to spend.
“You have to,” he said. “You look at what other clubs are doing, what Man City are doing, even Paris St-Germain. There is so much money out there. Even after winning the Champions League it’s so important that we keep competing. And thankfully we have got an owner who is very much prepared to do that and put the faith in the players that he signs as well.”
Having finished sixth in the Premier League, improving that form is an obvious target.
“It was disappointing, really,” Terry added. “I think we always talk about it, can you win both? We have seen Man Utd do it [in 1999], but a long time ago. But it’s a tough one because there are so many important games coming and once you are away from that third or fourth spot, it was a case of ‘do you then concentrate on that or do you put all your eggs in one basket in the Champions League?’ We did in the end and it paid off.”
Despite having lost the England captaincy and the Euro 2012 campaign again ending at the quarter-final stage, Terry said he remained fully committed to playing for his country.
“It’s encouraging when you take a step back,” he claimed. “Being knocked out was disappointing, but under Roy Hodgson it was good.”
The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2012