England and Chelsea defender John Terry should not have been taken to court over racism allegations, his team mate Ashley Cole said today.
Terry, 31, is accused of calling Anton Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" during a Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers on October 23, 2011.
He denies a racially aggravated public order offence, saying that he was sarcastically repeating the slur that Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had used.
Cole, 31, told Westminster Magistrates Court:
He added, that while racism should never be tolerated, repeating what you thought someone said was "completely different".
Cole described Terry as "a close friend" but said there was "conflict" because he also knows both Ferdinand and his brother Rio.
He said that Terry would laugh off taunts on and off the football pitch.
On the day of the match at Loftus Road, Cole said he saw Ferdinand make a fist gesture to imply sex and could see him saying something about "Bridgey" or "black".
He said he thought QPR centre-half Ferdinand's taunts were "not necessary" and did not shake his hand after the game. Cole added that he did not hear Terry say anything in reply to the goading, the court heard.
Later in the match, Terry told Cole he thought Ferdinand had accused him of using racist language. Cole was also present after the match, when Terry asked Ferdinand what had happened:
The two players then shook hands and went their separate ways, Cole said.
Former Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins also gave evidence and said he was friends with Terry and began working with him when he was 16-years-old.
Wilkins, who is now a media commentator, said Terry was a peacemaker in training when players would fall out and begin fighting. He added that over the years Terry had faced "unmerciful criticism" and he had never seen him react.
"That's testimony to the guy," Mr Wilkins told the court.
Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho provided a written character witness statement.
In it he said Terry had an excellent relationship with all the players regardless of ethnicity when he was at the helm between June 2004 and September 2009.