Stiliyan Petrov's a bit of a hero, mostly to Aston Villa and Celtic fans, but just like, say, Fabrice Muamba, his story is one that unites fans of all walks and allegiances. If you have a minute, read this excellent take on just what "Stan" means to Villa fans over at 7500 to Holte. I'll wait.
So what does any of this have to do with Terry? It's not like Petrov and Terry were bosom buddies while the Bulgarian was active and healthy.
"Before I was ill I knew John only from shaking hands before kick-off in matches, and as a fierce competitor."
"We had also met and talked at the meetings the Premier League hold for captains before the start of each season."
"But from the moment the news came out about my illness he was one of the first to get in touch and he has carried on being supportive ever since. He doesn’t always have an easy time with the fans, but I have seen a very different man to that image."
"He has gone out of his way to encourage me at different times – always sending messages and texts while I was going through treatment, even though sometimes it might have been a month before I felt strong enough to return them."
-Stiliyan Petrov; source: Mirror
In addition to waging his own battle against leukemia, Petrov has found time to establish and endorse cancer charities, in support of which he's putting on a fundraiser match at Celtic Park on Sunday. While he doesn't know how much he will be able to actually play, both the Celtic XI and the Petrov XI squads contain plenty of big names to bring in the crowds. And alongside the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Henrik Larsson, and Ľubomír Moravčík, Chelsea's and England's "brave" John Terry will make an appearance as well. Although we all know how much JT loves the full kit look, this gesture is wonderful in every sense of the word.
"When I was planning this game he was the first to sign up. I rang and asked if he could take part and he just said: ‘Tell me when and I’ll be there. Who wouldn’t want to play in the atmosphere of a sold-out Celtic Park?’"
-Stiliyan Petrov; source: Mirror
So just another instance* of Terry doing some sort of nice, humanly, good-hearted thing behind the scenes. Ho-hum. From inspiring and providing guidance to the youth players to being a great on-pitch and locker room leader (that is, when he's not kicking Alexis Sanchez or abusing Anton Ferdinand) to supporting charities, to simply being a one-club man for his entire professional career, it's almost impossible to paint Terry in such broad strokes as the general media would want you to believe.
* of course the only reason this story got printed in the first place was most likely because we're stuck in the middle of a most boring international break...
While there's no denying that Chelsea's captain (and England's captain twice over) has had a litany of bad PR and brushes with the law and almost as many cases of ill-judgment both on and off the pitch, in the end he's probably just your typical athlete - or "dumb jock" as they like to call them around here - full of vim and vigor and often good intentions, yet perhaps a few straws short of a full bale when it comes to critical thinking. All which is possibly just as big of a cliché as "worst human being" or "secret good guy" of course.
In any case, later today, the Stiliyan Petrov charity match will be carried live on BT Sport 2 in the UK. Kickoff is set for 14:00 BST / 9am EDT. Let's give a round of applause to all the participants.