LONDON — Former Chelsea and England captain John Terry has announced his retirement.
"After 23 incredible years as a footballer, I have decided now is the right time to retire from playing," Terry said Sunday. "As a 14-year-old, I made my best and biggest decision: to sign for Chelsea Football Club.
"Words will never be enough to show how much everyone at the club means to me, in particular the fans. My club career and heart will always belong to Chelsea. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and the challenges ahead."
The 37-year-old centre half captained Aston Villa in the second tier of English football last season, but left the club in the summer.
Villa fired manager Steve Bruce last week and media reports have linked Terry with a job on the coaching staff.
Having joined the Chelsea youth ranks, Terry made his senior debut in 1998 and was appointed captain in 2004. His physical presence, anticipation, and leadership qualities made him the outstanding figure in defence as the club enjoyed a run of trophy success.
On the continent, he collected the Champions League in 2012, despite being suspended for the final, and the Europa League the following year. As the key cog in Chelsea’s resurgence after its 2003 takeover by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Terry also won the Premier League five times, the FA Cup five times, and the League Cup on three occasions.
Terry 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.
In 2001, Terry was one of four players fined two weeks’ wages by Chelsea after their behaviour at a Heathrow hotel was criticized on the day after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Terry constantly attracted the strong backing of Chelsea fans who have a banner at Stamford Bridge which reads, "Captain. Leader. Legend."
He scored six goals in 78 appearances for England.