I want to stay at Chelsea, tearful Terry tells fans
John Terry choked back the tears during an emotional on-pitch speech, but stopped just short of telling the Chelsea fans what they wanted to hear.
Despite being suspended for Chelsea’s final game of the season, Terry took the microphone during the players’ Stamford Bridge lap of appreciation after a Danny Drinkwater goal had cancelled out a Cesc Fabregas penalty.
As usual, Terry insisted that he wanted to stay at Chelsea but did not go as far as saying he would definitely sign the one-year contract extension that includes a pay-cut and a reduced playing role, which was put on the table last week.
With Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich watching from his private box, Terry addressed the fans and said: “We all want the same. I’ve said for a long time I want to finish my career here. I’ll be speaking to the club over the next few days. I want to stay, the club knows that, the fans know that. I want to stay.”
Terry had to stop midway through his speech when the Chelsea fans loudly chanted “John Terry we want you to stay” and also said: “On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone. This season has been tough for me, very emotional, so, thank you for the support. Chelsea is my life, as it is yours. The best moments of my life have been in this stadium. You’ve been a big part of that.”
The 35-year-old joined his team- mates to form a guard of honour for Premier League champions Leicester City and the former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri ahead of kick-off.
In the 26th minute, a section of the Chelsea crowd displayed posters that read ‘John Terry 26’ and the former England man received a standing ovation from the home supporters. There was also an enormous banner that read ‘John Terry, Proper Chels’.
From his seat behind interim-manager Guus Hiddink and the Chelsea substitutes, Terry rose to acknowledge the tributes and patted his chest to indicate his affection for the fans and the club.
Hiddink refused to speculate whether Terry would accept Chelsea’s offer, but he believes last week’s talks are a positive sign.
“First of all, I’m happy that they are now in contact and are talking,” said Hiddink. “For me, it’s not good to make speculation. It’s good when both parties start to talk. Personally, I hope they manage to come to a solution. That is my personal opinion. When they are talking, then I must not spoil it by starting to speculate.
“He is 35, when people normally say goodbye. But he’s physically very fit and mentally very fit, so he can contribute a lot wherever he wants to play.”
Other than attempting to influ- ence Terry’s decision, Chelsea also paid tribute to Ranieri, with Abramovich personally congratulating the manager he sacked 12 years ago.
Chelsea presented Ranieri with a silver plate to mark his achievement of winning the title and the Italian appeared emotional when he was given a standing ovation by home fans after the final whistle.
“The emotion was at a maximum,” said Ranieri. “There was a fantastic welcome back, a warm welcome back from everybody. I met the owner Roman Abramovich here, and also when I went out all the people – the fans, the Chelsea fans – it was amazing. At the beginning, but also at the end. No tears, no. Come on, man. Every time you want to speak about tears!”
Asked exactly what Abramovich had said to him, Ranieri replied: “Welcome to the champions. Very warm.”
Drinkwater made sure Leicester did not end their fairy-tale season on a defeat with a stunning 30-yard goal that gave Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois no chance.
Fabregas had given his team the lead from the penalty spot after Nemanja Matic had been fouled in the area by substitute Jeffrey Schlupp.
Leicester will parade the Premier League trophy through the city today and, of his team’s 10-point margin of victory at the top of the table, Ranieri said: “We were so consistent during the season and the other teams were not, they were going up and down. That was one key for us, one of our strengths.”
On the prospect of playing in the Champions League next season, Ranieri added: “The Champions League will be a very good experience for all my players. None of them have played in the Champions League. It will be a very good atmosphere with good music. I hope we are ready not just to listen to the music, but to make some music.”
End on a high: John Terry is thrown in the air by team-mates after the match
Returning hero: Claudio Ranieri is applauded onto the pitch yesterday