John Terry, the one mainstay in the Roman Abramovich era, bids farewell to a Chelsea career of highs and lows

Greg Lea uses his Premier League column this week to pay tribute to Chelsea's departing captain John Terry.

John Terry is set to leave Chelsea 19 years after making his first-team debut. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

John Terry’s face said it all — not once but twice.

There was no chance of the Chelsea captain playing it cool when he opened the scoring in his side’s 4-3 victory over Watford on Monday.

After hooking the ball home, Terry ran towards the home fans wearing a huge grin and the look of a man who believed he would never get the opportunity to experience this feeling again.

The joy proved short-lived, though. Soon after, a miscued header from the Englishman back to goalkeeper Asmir Begovic allowed Etienne Capoue to steal in and get Watford back on level terms. Within 35 seconds, Terry’s joy had turned to anguish.

In a way, it was the perfect snapshot of a career which has featured more than its fair share of highs and lows.


Read more

■ Predictions: Expect goals as Chelsea and Spurs finish in style

■ Chelsea: Season turned when Antonio Conte turned to Marcos Alonso

■ Antonio Conte: 'Great man' John Terry to keep playing after Chelsea


Terry has led Chelsea through the most trophy-laden period in their history, winning five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Europa League and one Uefa Champions League — as well as another FA Cup prior to Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003.

But it has not all been positive. There was the decisive missed penalty in the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United, while he did not feature in the conclusion of Chelsea’s successful continental campaign four years later due to suspension.

There have been issues off the pitch, too, namely the racial abuse allegations brought by then-Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in 2011, which led to him being stripped of the armband at international level.

It is fair to say that Terry has never been too far away from controversy, but there can be no doubting his achievements as a player.

While his fine reading of the game and strength in both the air and the tackle are widely appreciated, the Chelsea man’s range of passing has always been underrated.

He has also been a major influence in the dressing room at Stamford Bridge, which has been particularly vital given Abramovich’s revolving door policy when it comes to managers.

Antonio Conte is the 11th manager Terry has worked under since making his debut in 1998, and his leadership has helped the club stay on the right path throughout.

“It’s going to be tough,” Terry said to Sky Sports when asked about his emotions ahead of his Stamford Bridge swansong against Sunderland on Sunday.

“It’s a tough day when you’ve been at a club for so long, with so many great memories, relationships, friends, managers and everything else. Tonight [Monday] was tough, but next week I’m going to be in bits, I know. I never wanted to be that player who was just hanging about and people couldn’t wait to get rid of. I never wanted to hang about and stop the progress of a younger player, so that’s what I based my decision on.”

With the Premier League title already in the bag and a sixth FA Cup a distinct possibility, Terry will be able to sign off in style this weekend.

He may be past his best, but Chelsea fans will still be sad to see the departure of their most successful ever captain.

Rooney’s future remains unresolved

Wayne Rooney with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Paul Ellis / AFP

In contrast to Terry, Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career looks set to end with a whimper rather than a bang.

The England captain may have become the club’s all-time record goalscorer earlier this season, but his importance to the team has diminished rapidly in a rather short space of time.

It has not yet been confirmed that Rooney will be seeking pastures new this summer, but this certainly feels like the right moment for a parting of the ways.

Where exactly he pitches up next is a different question entirely.

Boyhood club Everton have been linked with a move, but such a deal would surely not make sense for Ronald Koeman’s side.

Even if Rooney is willing to take a pay cut, it is not clear that Everton would be able to afford him — or that they would be willing to spend such a large portion of their total wage bill on a 31-year-old on the way down.

MLS has provided a home to Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in recent years, but the league is beginning to move away from expensive overseas imports approaching the end of their careers.

Perhaps the most likely option, then, is the Chinese Super League.

Tianjin Quanjian reportedly held talks with Rooney in January and, according to sources, would even be willing to increase his salary. Other Chinese clubs are bound to be attracted by his name and profile, too.

Yet it remains to be seen whether Rooney and his family would be willing to take such a life-changing step, particularly as the player has never lived outside the north-west of England.

As far as Rooney’s future is concerned, there are far more questions than answers right now.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at