John Terry will seek to extend his career in the Premier League next season after Chelsea announced they would not be renewing their captains contract at Stamford Bridge, severing a 22-year association with the club.
Terry, who joined Chelseas youth ranks at 14, has played only 366 minutes in the Premier League under Antonio Conte this season after signing his latest one-year contract extension last May. Club and player released a joint statement on Monday confirming the long anticipated parting of the ways though the former England defender, who has considered moves to clubs in China, the US and the Gulf in the recent past, has not ruled out moving to another English club next season.
There were tentative inquiries fielded from up to 10 top-flight teams in January, by which point it was clear the 36yearold was peripheral to Contes plans, with Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City making their interest particularly clear. Terry, who has made 713 first-team appearances for the club since his debut in 1998, scored 66 goals and captained the team a record 578 times, had previously suggested he would not play for a rival English team, though that stance appears to have softened.
After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club, he said. From coaches, team-mates and staff to the fans who have given me so much support down the years, I cant thank you enough. There will be opportunities for me to speak further about this over the coming weeks.
I will decide on my future in due course but for now I am committed to helping the team achieve success this season. The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days. We had some really positive talks but, with everything taken into careful consideration, I have decided its the right time for me to leave.
The club have encouraged Terry to undertake his coaching badges and are believed to have explored the possibility of retaining him in a non-playing capacity, perhaps with coaching or ambassadorial responsibilities. Yet the defenders desire to carry on playing as, indeed, Conte has encouraged him publicly to do appears to have influenced the joint decision to part ways.
Everyone at Chelsea would like to place on record our thanks to John for all he has done for this club, the director Marina Granovskaia said. He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause. In that time Chelsea has grown into one of the worlds top clubs and it is only right that Johns contribution is recognised. 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, capped 78 times, will hope to lift the Premier League trophy for a fifth time in the coming weeks and has five FA Cups, three League Cups, as well as Champions League and Europa League winners medals from his glittering career. Ive 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 and me. I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me.
Im eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.