CAPTAIN John Terry has confirmed he will end his 22-year association with Chelsea at the end of the season, but plans to keep on playing.
The 36-year-old defender has been out of favour at the London club, having played the last of his 713 games two months ago in the FA Cup.
Not since November has the centre back played in the English Premier League for the competition leader.
During that time Terry has begun a coaching course and learning Portuguese.
"The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days," Terry said in a statement. "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."
Terry is expected to play on, however, with lucrative offers coming from China, the United Arab Emirates and United States.
"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," he said.
Having come through the junior ranks, Terry made his senior debut for Chelsea in 1998, before being appointed captain in 2004.
As the key man in Chelsea's resurgence following its takeover by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Terry was also part of four Premier League title wins, and five FA Cup triumphs.
"He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain, and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause," Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said.
"In that time, Chelsea has grown into one of the world's top clubs and it is only right that John's contribution is recognized. He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future."
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