Club captain and synonymous with undoubtedly their most successful-ever period John Terry is – and always will be – a Chelsea legend, turning out for the Blues a whopping 696 times (third on the all-time appearances list), netting an impressive 66 goals in the process.
But the long-serving Blues captain will bid farewell after an 18-year stint at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, having been told the club would not sign off on a one-year contract extension without the input of their as-yet-unknown new manager.
Despite being told that he might have been offered an extension if he was willing to wait, Terry made his surprise announcement after Chelsea’s 5-1 win over MK Dons on Sunday.
“It’s not going to be a fairytale ending, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea,” said Terry. “Ideally I would have loved to stay, but the club’s moving in a different direction. No player is ever bigger than the club. The club will move on. It’s going to be my last year and I want to go out at the top.”
Chelsea officials were quick to point out that Terry’s departure was not set in stone, saying that they would keep channels of communication open until the summer, but the former England captain seems adamant on a move away from the Premier League.
“It’s not going to be a fairytale ending, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea”
“My agent made the call like we do every January,” said Terry. “He got told over the phone and I called to set up a meeting the following day. The club immediately set that up which was great of them. I wanted to hear it face to face. They told me. Unfortunately it’s not going to be. It took me a couple of days to get over. I feel as though I’m in great nick, I’m playing great and I’ve got a couple of years to go. It’ll just be elsewhere.
“I needed to know now like I have done every January and sometimes it takes a couple of months to get done. Unfortunately it was a no. My performance isn’t going to change in the way I train and what I give for the club. I want to give everything and finish on a high, on 100 per cent good terms with the club.”
There will be no shortage of suitors for the central defender, with the opportunity to follow fellow Chelsea icon Frank Lampard to the MLS, former teammate Ramires to China, or even to major clubs across Europe.
David Beckham enjoyed a successful spell in Serie A, on loan from LA Galaxy, in the last years of his career and Terry may be tempted to follow suit.
He has certainly had his controversial moments but Terry will undoubtedly go down as one of the great defenders of his generation and boasts an enviable trophy collection, winning four Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, three League Cups, a Champions League and the Europa League with his only senior club.