THAT DAY: John Terry gave an emotional farewell to Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge and clinched the Premier League title as Antonio Conte’s side beat Sunderland
John Terry ended his Chelsea career and said an emotional goodbye to his fans on this day five years ago.
The former England captain led his beloved Blues side to a guard of honor for the last time on May 21, 2017 at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte’s side had clinched the Premier League title two games earlier, giving Terry the perfect send-off by lifting the trophy after 22 years of service.
The legendary centre-back was indeed substituted in the 26th minute in homage to his squad number and Gary Cahill came on as a substitute in the 5-1 win over Sunderland. But Terry returned to the stage to celebrate with the Premier League trophy and to address the fans who had supported him for more than a decade.
However, this emotional farewell would never have happened if Conte had accepted Terry’s selfless plea earlier in the campaign. The veteran defender had become a supporting player in his senior year and he was urging a younger team-mate to take his place on the bench for the remainder of the season.
Terry previously told snooker legend Stephen Hendry in an Instagram Live Q&A about the Sun: “I was there to check [Conte] around Christmas time. I said gaffer listen you bench me and we have Nathan Ake who to me was an incredibly talented young player. I said: ‘Put him on the bench because the chances of him coming are very slim, it will be a great experience for him.’
“‘He was on the bench like seven, eight or ten games and he ended up playing against the Spurs [FA Cup] semifinals this year. And it was just little things like that. I’m not sure the players would have done what I did.”
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Ake would only play four games for Chelsea this season before sealing a summer move to Bournemouth. The Netherlands international later joined Manchester City, where he is on course to claim his second consecutive Premier League winners’ medal.
Terry took over the mic after the win over the Black Cats, first phoning coach Steve Holland, who was leaving for a full-time job with England. The defender also paid tribute to club owner Roman Abramovich before delivering his final message to the crowd.
Terry said: “Finally you, the fans, the best supporters in the world without a doubt. You guys have given me everything since I was 17 when I started. You picked me up when I was down and sang my name when I had bad games and let you down too.
“Thank you will never be enough, but I’ll tell you what: I’ll be back one day. I will wholeheartedly support the players and the club. Thank you, I love you all. Finally, I would like to thank this man [Conte]. Honestly, thank you very much.”
Conte’s hopes of Terry lifting the FA Cup were dashed when rivals Arsenal denied Chelsea the league and cup double. Aaron Ramsey snatched the winner after a red card for Victor Moses in the Gunners’ 2-1 win at Wembley.
On his captain’s decision to leave, Conte told reporters: “John made this decision to play regularly, to play every game and because of that he will choose to leave Chelsea. I don’t know where.” It’s a big loss for us because John helped me a lot in my first season. He always sent the right message to the players throughout the season. It’s a shame for me but I have to respect his decision because when you arrive at that moment your heart, head and body are telling you to keep going because you want to keep playing and want to play regularly.
Terry played one more season with championship side Aston Villa but retired months after Steve Bruce’s side lost to Fulham in the play-off final. The 41-year-old worked as an assistant to Dean Smith at Villa Park and is still looking for his managerial job.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/chelsea-john-terry-antonio-conte-27010035 John Terry made a selfless plea to Antonio Conte ahead of his tearful departure from Chelsea