Captain John Terry will leave Chelsea at the end of the season after spending his entire career at the London club, and the veteran defender is keen to continue playing.
The 36-year-old Terry made the last of his 713 appearances for Chelsea in February after losing his place in the English Premier League leaders’ team.
Terry, who has been studying for coaching qualifications and learning Portuguese, plans to decide on his future “in due course.”
“The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days,” he said in a statement. “We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it’s the right time for me to leave.
“I’ve always been conscious that I depart at the right time, in the right way, and I feel that the end of this season is the right time for the club. I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me. I’m eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge.”
Having joined the youth ranks and then made his senior debut in 1998, Terry was appointed captain in 2004. His physical presence, anticipation, and leadership qualities made him the outstanding figure in Chelsea’s defence as the club enjoyed a run of trophy success.
On the continent, he has collected both the Champions League and Europa League. As the key cog in Chelsea’s resurgence after its 2003 takeover by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Terry has also won the Premier League four times, the FA Cup five times, and the League Cup on three occasions.
“He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said. “In that time, Chelsea has grown into one of the world’s top clubs and it is only right that John’s contribution is recognized. He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future.”
Terry held on to the Chelsea captaincy despite being banned for four matches and fined in 2012 for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
And Terry appreciated the backing of Chelsea fans who have a banner at Stamford Bridge which reads, “Captain. Leader Legend.”
“You mean the world to me and every trophy we’ve won during my time at the club we’ve won together,” he said. “I will never forget the incredible journey we’ve been on. Thank you so much for everything.”