Chelsea icon Terry finds new home at Aston Villa
LONDON — Former longserving Chelsea captain John Terry signed a one-year contract on a free transfer to second-tier side Aston Villa on Monday.
Terry, 36, left champion Chelsea after 22 trophy-laden years at the end of last season, having won his sixth Premier League winner’s medal in May.
He is reported to have agreed a weekly salary of $77,700 with the club that is owned by Chinese businessman Tony Xia.
“#WelcomeJT: It’s official — John Terry signs,” tweeted Aston Villa with a photograph of the ex-England skipper in their kit.
Villa manager Steve Bruce — himself a former central defender of renown, having captained Manchester United — made no bones about the significance of persuading Terry to join.
“It has to be the biggest signing of my career,” said former Hull, Sunderland, Birmingham and Wigan boss Bruce.
“It’s not often you get a player of John’s caliber to play for you.
“A lot of the younger players will look up to him and it can only be a good thing for the dressing room.”
Bruce, though, had one minor quibble.
“We would love to have signed him when he was 26 not 36, but physically he is incredibly fit for his age,” he said.
Terry, whose final appearance for Chelsea was mired in controversy after several fans won money by betting on him being substituted in the 26th minute, the same number as his shirt, said he preferred to drop down a league than have to face Chelsea.
“It was that mental side of playing against Chelsea that would be too much to get over,” said Terry, who had offers from Premier League sides West Brom and Swansea.
“I had 22 unbelievable years at the club. This is a new chapter. I wish Chelsea well, but my thoughts are 100 percent here and the ambition to get back in the Premier League.”
Terry joins the side against whom he made his senior debut 19 years ago in a League Cup third-round tie.
“Life has come full circle,” he said.
Chelsea also tweeted best wishes.
“Wishing John Terry the very best of luck at Aston Villa! (with a thumbs-up icon),” the club tweeted.
Terry is expected to fly out to Portugal to join his teammates at the club’s preseason training, before the new season begins at home to Hull on Aug 5.
The signing is something of a coup for fallen giant Villa — which endured a torrid time last season to eventually finish 13th in the Championship — because it faced competition for Terry’s signature from not only Premier League clubs but also Turkish side Galatasaray.
New Aston Villa signing John Terry (right) poses with manager Steve Bruce during Monday’s media conference in Birmingham, England.
Zhang Yuning in action during Team China’s friendly match against the Philippines at Guangzhou Tianhe Sport Center last month.