English Angle: From 50 To 100 - John Terry Half-Way To Legend Status

The England captain has reached one landmark and already has another in his sights, as he still has a lot of work to do to reach true legend status for his country, writes Goal.com's Sulmaan Ahmad...

Even sitting on the bench, David Beckham was the centrepiece against Slovakia on Saturday. All eyes were on the golden boy and his elusive 109th cap-in-waiting, which came in the form of a superb second half cameo.

He was worth the hype. So many have begrudged him his success, but to become the most capped outfield player in the history of English international football is a feat well worthy of all the fanfare it received, irrespective of those who consider him more of a celebrity than a footballer.

In the shadows was skipper John Terry, who prior to the game hailed Beckham's achievements and explained the pre- and post-match rituals surrounding such landmark appearances. Best wishes, a calm before the storm of the game and then congratulations all round, the signing of the shirt and so forth.

Terry even joked that he hoped his team-mates would remember to honour his 50th and that he not be forgotten in the midst of Beckhamania, and it's not hard to see why.

Without wishing to denigrate the achievement, it must be acknowledged that 50 caps is perhaps not the feat it once was. The increased number of international fixtures and improved fitness and career span of the average professional footballer has seen to it that some less-than-illustrious players can find their way past the half-century mark.

There are several defenders already in the club that are forgotten names in modern football. Des Walker and Dave Watson, to name just two, were Three Lions regulars of a less memorable era for the national team that passed the 50 mark. Likewise, there are those such as Gareth Southgate and Phil Neville who were, with all due respect, never regarded as top class outside their county. Then there is the flip-side, for top quality players in this day and age such as Wayne Rooney, who reached the landmark last night and is still considered a kid.

Before Terry had even set foot on the Wembley turf to join the 50-and-above club, he was already proclaiming his hope that he will one day pass the 100 mark. What may by some be interpreted as a presumptuous and self-important lack of humility can much more reasonably be gauged as honest and unapologetic ambition - a hope to fulfil a dream - something you would struggle to bet against him achieving at this point in his career.

‘JT’ reached legend status at Stamford Bridge at the age of 26 - which in itself is a remarkable feat for a defender - but for England, he is thus far just another patriotic, archetypal English centre-half. A good one, without doubt, but even since procuring the armband from David Beckham, he hasn't made his mark on the national side. His captaincy has the unfortunate association with Steve McClaren's catastrophic reign as coach that resulted in the Three Lions' failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

He retained his skipper status under Fabio Capello after some nervy months in which the armband did the rounds and the public were calling for one of Steven Gerrard or Rio Ferdinand, now Robin to Terry's Batman, to get the top job. Terry was almost an outsider at one point, but his heart-on-sleeve approach to all things football struck a chord with Fabio when it mattered.

Captaincy is not something Capello bestows lightly on anyone. His captains have been exemplary at Real Madrid, legendary at Milan and prodigious at Roma. In fact - besides Raul, Franco Baresi and Francesco Totti - only Alessandro Del Piero at Juventus of this exclusive and illustrious club felt the wrath of Capello's iron fist in spite of his position as captain, often out of favour and used as an impact player from the bench. The rest were sacred figures; integral and as close to untouchable as anybody will ever get under Capello.

And so the odds weigh in Terry's favour that, as captain, he will remain an ever-present in the side until he chooses to relinquish the armband; a day unlikely to come until he chooses to retire or is dropped - and what are the chances of that?

England are in the midst of a golden era for defensive players, with the likes of Ledley King (knackered knee and all), Jonathan Woodgate, Joleon Lescott among several others making up a pool of top class rearguard talents that, in an era when stoppers are short across the globe, is an impressive roster to be at any coach's disposal. Jamie Carragher even retired from international football upon realising that even his weekly heroics for Liverpool would not be enough to break into the first team for his country.

Terry is king of this castle and few youngsters, beyond perhaps Jack Rodwell at Everton, are coming through as potential successors. He will have plenty of years yet at his disposal with which to accumulate 50 more caps. At 28, he has taken six years to get half-way there; a man in his mould could certainly play on until 34 and even get better in the process of doing so.

He showed last night that even in what was an average defensive performance, he can still make the difference, providing an assist for the opener and netting the winner from set plays. That is the power of his presence.

Terry, as captain and icon in the public eye, has to look towards going above and beyond team-mates such as Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand (both of whom have done magnificently to amass over 70 caps each), as well as top class fan favourites of recent years such as Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Stuart Pearce. Not just in number of caps, but in England legacy. He has to aim for the Hall of Fame.

He won't win the European Cups of Phil Neal, be quite as crazed and die-hard as his namesake Terry Butcher, establish an inimitable legend like Billy Wright, or - though some fans may disagree on this - lift the World Cup like Bobby Moore. Maybe he will be likened to Emlyn Hughes when he hangs up his boots and his services for club and country are eulogised and compared with those before him. Any label can be pinned on him, but these are the names he needs to be alongside with a legacy of his own and, even if his first 50 caps haven't exactly gone according to plan, things only promise to get better between now and the time he hopes to become another England centurion.

Sulmaan Ahmad, Goal.com