The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

BIRM­ING­HAM, ENG­LAND — Rather than re­tire or play against Chelsea, John Terry de­cided to join a team that was un­likely to face the Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons.

The for­mer Chelsea cap­tain signed a oneyear deal with sec­ond-di­vi­sion club As­ton Villa on Mon­day, three days af­ter end­ing a 22-year association with the Lon­don club.

Terry made more than 700 ap­pear­ances for Chelsea — most of them as cap­tain. He said his affin­ity for the club made him turn down of­fers from other Pre­mier League teams.

“I thank them for their of­fers. For me it was just the men­tal side of play­ing against Chelsea was too much to get over,” Terry said at Villa Park. “I had 22 years at the foot­ball club, 22 un­be­liev­able years. I’m very proud of that but this is a new chap­ter in my life and my ca­reer.

“I wish Chelsea well next sea­son and will be watch­ing out but my thoughts are 100 per cent here and the am­bi­tion is to get us back to the Pre­mier League.”

Villa, which fin­ished 13th in the League Cham­pi­onship last sea­son, is tar­get­ing pro­mo­tion back to the top di­vi­sion af­ter rel­e­ga­tion in 2016, and could be in the same di­vi­sion as Chelsea for the ’17-18 cam­paign.

“That’s the ideal sit­u­a­tion,” Terry said. “If, in a year’s time, we’re sit­ting here and As­ton Villa are play­ing in the Pre­mier League, then I’ve done my job and ev­ery­one else has done theirs.

“We can cross that bridge, hope­fully, when we come to it. First and fore­most we’ve got a big and im­por­tant year ahead of us.”

Terry, 36, pro­gressed from the youth ranks at Chelsea, mak­ing his se­nior de­but in 1998. The only other club he has played for was Not­ting­ham For­est dur­ing a six-game loan spell in 2000.

Chelsea an­nounced in April that Terry would be leav­ing the club at the end of the sea­son but he waited un­til the end of the sea­son be­fore de­cid­ing against re­tire­ment.

And af­ter win­ning his fifth Pre­mier League ti­tle and his 15th ma­jor tro­phy with Chelsea, a round of golf with Villa coach Steve Bruce in Por­tu­gal helped con­vince him to con­tinue his ca­reer.

“With things go­ing to the end at Chelsea, I put ev­ery­thing to the side, a lot of man­agers were re­spect­ful of that,” Terry said. “It was bub­bling once the sea­son fin­ished with phone calls, text mes­sages, and I bumped into Steve in Por­tu­gal.

“I’ve got huge re­spect for him as a player, as a per­son and as a man. The way he’s dealt with me per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally has been great and a key fac­tor in me join­ing. I’m de­lighted be­cause I still want to con­tinue play­ing. I’m 36, that hunger’s still there to win and fight week-in, week-out.”


New As­ton Villa sign­ing John Terry, right, poses with manger Steve Bruce. Terry has signed a one-year deal with sec­ond-di­vi­sion As­ton Villa.

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