LONDON — As captain of England's national team, John Terry is used to appearing in the sports pages.
But on Saturday, his picture was splashed across the front pages of Britain's newspapers, and not because of his skill on the field.
A High Court judge lifted a court order Friday that had prevented the media from reporting allegations about Terry's private life — a so-called "super injunction" which barred publication that any order even existed.
The court order related to a story about the 29-year-old Terry, who is married with two children, and his ties with another woman whom the judge did not name.
After the injunction was lifted, it wasn't just the country's famously racy tabloids that published page after page about the football (soccer) star — some of Britain's more conservative broadsheet newspapers followed the story as well for its long-term impact on the country's strict media laws.
Ambi Sitham, a media lawyer, called High Court judge Michael Tugendhat's decision "hugely significant," and said while those with legitimate privacy concerns would continue to be protected, people trying to escape scrutiny for other reasons won't find relief in the courts.
"It's a big red flag for high-profile people, who are increasingly using privacy law to keep sordid details out of the press," she said.
In December, a similar injunction barred journalists in Britain from publishing material about Tiger Woods, even blocking the media from revealing the details of the order itself. Woods has since confessed to marital infidelities, lost millions as sponsorship deals evaporated, taken an unspecified amount of time off from professional golf and disappeared from public view.
Terry, whose past bad boy antics have been frequently chronicled by the press, never had the saintly reputation of Woods. Still, he is one of the sport's highest-paid stars playing the world's most popular game for one of the most renowned clubs — Chelsea — in the English Premier League, the world's wealthiest.
Britain doesn't have a formal privacy law, but is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. That guarantees the right to respect for privacy and family life, and this clause has been used repeatedly by celebrities to fight media exposes.
The position of England captain is highly prestigious in Britain — David Beckham was the team's previous leader. Terry had been working on his image after a series of damaging incidents and last year was named "Dad of the Year" by a condiments company.
The injunction was granted Jan. 22 after Terry learned that a newspaper was about to publish a story about his private life.
Tugendhat, however, said Terry appeared more concerned about the effect that publication of the allegations might have on his public image rather than his private life, saying the "claim is essentially a business matter."
Terry — who is identified as LNS in the judgment — has several sponsorship deals on top of his reported weekly salary of 170,000 pounds ($275,000; €197,000) with Chelsea.
"I have reached the view that it is likely that the nub of LNS's complaint in this case is the protection of reputation, and not of any other aspect of LNS's private life," the judgment says. "The real basis for the concern of LNS is likely to be the impact of any adverse publicity upon the business of earning sponsorship and similar income."
The judge did say the woman in question was "a famous person" but not from the sporting world — and not as famous as Terry. British papers on Saturday reported that the woman was a model who already had a son with one of Terry's former teammates, a player who may also be chosen for England's World Cup team.
His team, Chelsea, has called the situation "a personal matter" and said they would give Terry and his family "all the support they need in dealing with it."
Much speculation Saturday focused on how the allegations could affect Terry's position on the England team and its run at the World Cup this summer in South Africa. Coach Fabio Capello has instilled a strict disciplinary code within the squad, and could pull the captaincy from Terry if he thought his off-field behavior might affect the team.
"The daily headlines will continue to question his fitness to lead. In Fleet Street parlance, this story has legs and will run and run," sports columnist Henry Winter wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "If it seems that Terry's conduct and continued ownership of the captain's armband affects morale going into a World Cup, then Capello has no choice. Terry should go."
Terry has played for Chelsea his entire career. The Blues fended off an attempt by Manchester City to sign him last year by giving him a pay rise that reportedly made him the highest-paid player in the Premier League.
Appointed Chelsea captain in 2004, he has won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups in the most successful period in the club's history.
He was first choice in central defense for England at the 2004 European Championship and 2006 World Cup, after which he was named national team captain when Beckham relinquished the role.
But allegations of off-field transgressions have followed him throughout his career. He was fined by Chelsea after he and three teammates drunkenly abused American guests at a hotel the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Terry has also been ejected from nightclubs and newspapers have accused him of infidelities several times.
But Terry has retained the England captaincy, even after the country's failure to reach the 2008 European Championship, and appeared in advertisements for Samsung and sportswear manufacturer Umbro.
Despite speculation that he might hide out after all the bad publicity, Terry started in his team's game Saturday. He was booed by fans but scored the winning goal in Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Burnley, keeping his team on top of the Premier League.
"He is a fantastic player," Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said after the game. "That is his private life. He is about work. We don't have to say nothing because he is very professional." (AP)