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Terry salutes England fans

2011-11-16 07:33

London - John Terry saluted England's fans after the Chelsea defender avoided a night on the boos as he returned to the international spotlight in his country's 1-0 win over Sweden at Wembley.

Terry captained England to victory in its last game of 2011 on Tuesday in his first international appearance since allegations he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's Premier League defeat at Loftus Road.

The defender was left on the bench for Saturday's 1-0 friendly win against Spain after British police and the English FA launched investigations into the racism claims.

And after calls for Terry to surrender the England armband, it could have been an uncomfortable experience for the 30-year-old.

But the crowd of just over 48 000 reacted to Terry's return with a fairly tame reception.

His name was jeered by a section of the England support when it was read out before kick-off.

A smattering of boos whenever Terry was in possession in the opening minutes quickly died out and the centre-back was able to concentrate on the threat posed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Johan Elmander.

Terry said: "I'm not pleased to get it out of the way. I'm pleased that we've got the two wins from the two games.

"I was not worried about the crowd reaction. Not at all. I warmed up during the Spain game and got a really good reception from the fans.

"It was the same tonight. They were great with me so I can't ask for any more than that."

Terry was equally pleased that England managed to go through 2011 unbeaten in nine matches and ended a 43-year winless run against Sweden in the process.

"It was important we got the result tonight after the Spain game and we managed to do that," he said.

"I've seen in the past us get the high and then drop back a little bit. But we've had two good games and we are very happy with that.

"It is really good to be unbeaten for the whole year and the record against Sweden has been going on too long. It's good to put that one to bed as well."

Terry has been some way below his best for Chelsea in recent weeks and there were a couple of shaky moments in the first half as a miscued pass and then a hashed clearance went unpunished.

Fortunately for Terry, the lacklustre Ibrahimovic came off at half-time and Sweden was so lethargic that he was able to ease himself through the match under no real pressure.

That gave him time to appreciate the encouraging displays of youngsters Phil Jones and Jack Rodwell in midfield and Kyle Walker at right-back.

"The young players were very good," Terry said. "I thought Kyle was excellent. Young Jack in midfield did well before he had to come off and I'm pleased that Daniel Sturridge got on as well.

"We've got two clean sheets in two games against two really good sides. The manager made a lot of changes and it was important the new players came in and adapted really quickly, which they did."

Terry, who maintains his innocence over the racism claims, has always prided himself on his steely determination to meet any problems in his life head on and didn't relish being forced to sit on the sidelines or the FA's decision to gag him from talking about the issue at a pre-match press conference on Monday.

Asked if he had considered resigning as captain he gave a typically defiant response: "No chance, I would never step down (as England captain). It's something I dreamed of as a boy.

"When I was four or five I used to watch England games and it's a great achievement being England captain. I'm proud to lead the team out."

AFP