Chelsea fans knew this day would come.
Earlier today the club announced that John Terry, for so long the face of Chelsea (for better or worse), will be leaving Stamford Bridge at the end of this season.
There was speculation aplenty at the end of last season that Terry had come to the end of the line, punctuated by some emotional late appearances that gave the impression of a farewell tour. But Terry surprised everyone by signing a one-year extension of his contract, giving the fans one more year with their captain.
The year is just about over and all Terry has to show for it is 366 minutes of playing time in the Premier League. Whatever personal loyalty the club has to him, Antonio Conte hasn’t seen fit to use him in what has been, until recently at least, a comfortable jaunt to the Premier League title. The club’s announcement today amounts to acknowledging the writing of the wall.
Terry’s statement in response expressed gratitude for the club where he spent 22 years.
”After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club. From coaches, team-mates and staff to the fans who have given me so much support down the years, I can’t 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 it’s the right time for me to leave.”
Chelsea executive Marina TK talked up Terry’s legacy and service to the club.
”Everyone at Chelsea would like to place on record our thanks to John for all he has done for this football club. 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 world’s top clubs and it is only right that John’s 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.”
There’s no word on where Terry might go next, although early rumors of a move to MLS may be exaggerated. But the 36-year-old made it clear that there’s still some gas in the tank.
”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. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.”