John Terry and Wayne Bridge, the former Chelsea and England team-mates who were at the centre of one of English football’s biggest scandals, have been reunited in awkward circumstances: they are staying at the same Qatari World Cup hotel.
The former friends were the subject of a rift when it was alleged that Terry had been in a relationship with Bridge’s partner, Vanessa Perroncel, in 2009, with the story being published the following year by The News of the World.
The newspaper later issued an apology for the story, publishing Perroncel’s claims that it was “untrue”. Nevertheless, the two former friends have never reconciled with Bridge refusing to shake Terry’s hand in the Premier League pre-match “Fair Play” handshakes on more than one occasion.
Bridge has been at the World Cup finals as one of a number of “Fifa Legends” contracted by the governing body to make appearances in hospitality and other events around the tournament in Doha. Terry has been a pundit on the Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports where he has appeared alongside the former Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray.
In a city that has built hundreds of hotels in the decade since winning the right to host the tournament, both former players have ended up staying in the five-star Fairmont Hotel. It occupies one of the two Katara Towers, famed for their unusual horseshoe design.
Located on the seafront in the new Doha district of Lusail, the Fairmont hotel is unavailable for the public to book during the World Cup as one of the official bases for Fifa and its VIP delegation. The rate for the night the day after the World Cup final on Dec 19 is $1,200.
With 362 rooms and many different lounges in which to watch the games, the pair are understood to have been able to avoid one another so far - although both are aware that the other is there. The hotel has been home to some of the biggest stars in world football over the last three decades including the Brazilian, the great original Ronaldo, and his 2002 World Cup winning team-mate Roberto Carlos.
Terry has posted pictures of himself in Doha on his Instagram account with his wife Toni.
The aftermath of the Bridge-Terry scandal engulfed many famous footballers and the England team, as players of the era chose sides in the row. In February 2010, Fabio Capello summoned Terry to Wembley Stadium where he was sacked as England captain but permitted to remain in the squad.
Later that month, Bridge issued a brief statement to announce his retirement from international football. He said that his position in the squad in the World Cup in South Africa that summer would be “untenable and potentially divisive”, and cause “inevitable distractions”. He played at the 2002 tournament but lost his place ahead of the 2006 tournament. He left Chelsea for Manchester City in January 2009.
While Bridge’s new team-mates at Manchester City were more explicit in their support of their friend - Carlos Tevez and Stephen Ireland were among those who wore “Team Bridge” t-shirts - the man himself said very little in public. When he faced Terry in the pre-match formalities before City played at Stamford Bridge in 2010, Bridge chose not to shake Terry’s hand. He would do the same later when facing Terry when on loan at West Ham the following year.