Chelsea captain John Terry will leave the club at the end of the season after an illustrious 22-year career at Stamford Bridge, the Premier League leaders announced on Monday.
The 36-year-old is their most decorated individual, with four Premier League titles, one Champions League, five FA Cups, a Europa League and three League Cups. He has made 713 Chelsea appearances since his 1998 debut – 578 as captain but has not made a Premier League appearance since November and has signalled his desire to continue his playing career elsewhere next season, though a source told ESPN FC no MLS teams are interested in signing him. He is the club’s third highest all-time appearance maker, behind Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti.
But Chelsea say they anticipate Terry will one day return to Stamford Bridge “in a non-playing capacity, when he will be able to share his unparalleled experience with players, staff and fans alike.”
Announcing the decision, Terry told the club’s official website: “After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club. From coaches, teammates 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. 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 and I.
“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.”
The joint announcement of his departure after 22 years at Stamford Bridge is in marked contrast to the public standoff between Terry and Chelsea that overshadowed the second half of last season, eventually resulting in him signing a new one-year contract in May.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said Terry helped the Blues “grow into one of the world’s top clubs” and said he would be welcomed back in another role in the future.
“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.