London - Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins said John Terry's international retirement would be a "massive loss" to England manager Roy Hodgson.
Chelsea captain Terry, 31, dramatically quit international football on Sunday, less than a day before a Football Association hearing into allegations he racially abused QPR's Anton Ferdinand was due to start.
Central defender Terry, who has always denied the allegations, was cleared of criminal charges relating to the incident during a match between QPR and Chelsea in October last year by a London court in July.
Wilkins, himself a former Chelsea captain and ex-England midfielder, said Terry's absence would leave Hodgson with a huge hole to fill as the national side look to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"He's an outstanding player and in the dressing room he's an outstanding character," Wilkins told Sky Sports News. "On the pitch he does what the manager requires and that's to lead from the front.
"(Former England manager) Fabio Capello had a massive fall-out with the FA over John because he realised how important he was to our national team.
"I feel very sad for Roy Hodgson in that Roy made it pretty evident he wanted John to be there and be his centre-half. We've got to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil and this is a massive blow.
"It's a massive loss. You will see the loss it will be when John finally has to hang up his boots for Chelsea.
"To replace a character who has been in that dressing room for such a long period - and has performed at such a consistent level for that period -- is very, very difficult indeed."
Wilkins added: "We have loads of options, loads of very good young footballers coming through, and also Rio Ferdinand doing a very good job at Manchester United.
"But do we have the character of John Terry within these people I'm talking about? My answer to that is probably, 'no, we don't', because he doesn't only care about his own performance -- he cares about other people's performances as well.
"I don't think we've got the characters about now like John Terry."
Controversially, Hodgson took Terry to this year's European Championships but left Rio Ferdinand, Anton's older brother and a regular alongside the Chelsea skipper at the heart of England's defence, out of his squad.