John Terry to leave Chelsea at end of season

Chelsea captain John Terry. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

LONDON — Chelsea captain John Terry will leave the English Premier League champion at the end of the season after the club he has served since the age of 14 told him it would not be renewing his contract.

The 35-year-old central defender, the most successful captain in Chelsea’s history, was informed about the decision before last week’s 1-0 league win over Arsenal.

"I was in last week before the Arsenal game and it (my contract) is not going to be extended," he said. "It’s not going to be a fairytale ending, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea.

"Ideally I would have loved to stay, but the club’s moving in a different direction. 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."’

Terry has been offered a faint glimmer of hope about his future at Stamford Bridge, where Guus Hiddink has taken over as interim coach until the end of the season, following the firing of Jose Mourinho in December.

"They said that when the new manager comes in, things might change. It’s a ‘no’ at the minute," Terry said.

"It took me a couple of days to get over."

Chelsea said in a statement that there was still some chance he could be at the west London club next season.

"John was advised that while no new deal was currently on the table, that situation could change in the coming months," the Chelsea statement said.

"He is a fantastic servant of Chelsea Football Club and a superb captain and, as such, the club will keep the channels of dialogue open."

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.

In total, Terry has helped the club win four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the 2012 Champions League, and the 2013 Europa League. He also captained England during a 78-cap career before he retired from international football in 2012.

He 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.

Having made 696 appearances for the Blues, Terry’s next destination is likely to be abroad.

"I couldn’t play for another Premier League club. It will be elsewhere for sure," he said. "I don’t know where and I leave that to the people in charge.

"The club will move on, no player is ever bigger than the club.

"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."

Chelsea has had a chaotic season, languishing in the bottom half of the table a poor start under Mourinho. However, beating second-tier MK Dons 5-1 on Sunday in the FA Cup was the latest indication of a recovery under Hiddink.

Chelsea is 13th in the league, 14 points behind Tottenham in the fourth and final Champions League slot.

"It’s going to be my last year and I want to go out at the top," he said. "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."