Chelsea icon Terry finds new home at As­ton Villa

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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.

AARON CHOWN/PA VIA AP

New As­ton Villa sign­ing John Terry (right) poses with man­ager Steve Bruce dur­ing Mon­day’s me­dia con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land.

ZHONG ZHI / GETTY IMAGES

Zhang Yun­ing in ac­tion dur­ing Team China’s friendly match against the Philip­pines at Guangzhou Tianhe Sport Cen­ter last month.

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