John Terry has revealed that his 21-year Chelsea career will come to an end this summer.
The Chelsea captain was told in a meeting with club officials before the 1-0 win against Arsenal on January 24 that his contract would not be renewed when it expires in June.
Terry turned 35 in December but believes that he is still capable of playing at the highest level and will now seek to prolong his career for several more years outside of England.
There are almost certain to be lucrative opportunities in the United States or China but leading clubs across Europe, including Paris Saint-Germain, are certain to be digesting the news with interest.
“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.”
Terry delivered the bombshell news to journalists as he was leaving Stadium mk in Milton Keynes after Chelsea’s emphatic 5-1 FA Cup fourth round victory.
The one small caveat is that Terry was told that the situation could change when a new permanent Chelsea manager is appointed this summer but he is now completely resigned to leaving.
With four Premier League titles, five FA Cup victories, three in the League Cup, a Champions League and a Europa League title on his CV, Terry is easily the most successful captain in Chelsea history and among the most decorated English players of all-time.
Chelsea had told Terry’s agent by telephone that they were not planning to renew his contract and a personal meeting was then arranged.
Terry did not say whether Roman Abramovich was present at the meeting but the owner would have had the final say over such a huge club decision.
No reasons were given but there have already been discussions about the possibility of some sort of new role for Terry at Chelsea when his playing career does end.
“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. 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.”
Terry’s departure will mark the end of an era at Chelsea after Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech – as well as Jose Mourinho – have all left in the last two years.
Those five club legends have collectively embodied the most successful era in the club’s history.
Chelsea will also have to appoint a new captain, with Terry having worn the armband since 2004. He first joined the club as a 14-year-old apprentice and made his first-team debut in 1998.
“They said that when the new manager comes in, things might change,” said Terry. “We spoke about my legacy and coming back to the club when I finish.
“The most important thing now is to get us up the league. I knew before the Arsenal game so mentally I’ve kind of accepted it. We just have to move on.
“We didn’t get into it [reasons]. I didn’t feel as though I was playing great in the first four or five games of the season, like everyone in the team, and the performances showed that. But since then myself and everyone else has picked up back to where we are.
“All I can do is keep my head down and plug on because it’ll be my last year at the club.
“No doubt they’ll sign one or two great centre-backs. I want to come back as a Chelsea supporter in years to come with my kids and see the team doing great.
“Unfortunately, that’s not going to be with me, but I want to see the team do well.”
Asked if he could play elsewhere in England, Terry said: “No. I couldn’t do that to the Chelsea fans. I couldn’t play for another Premier League club.
“It will be elsewhere for sure. I don’t know where and I leave that to the people in charge. It certainly won’t be in the Premier League.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)