LONDON (Reuters) – Tearful John Terry made an emotional address to his devoted Chelsea fans on the Stamford Bridge pitch on Sunday, telling them that he still wanted to stay at the club.
Yet the club’s greatest idol stopped short of confirming that he would be taking up Chelsea’s new one-year contract offer, revealed on Friday, which is believed to feature a pay cut and what Terry himself calls a “different role”.
Terry was suspended for Chelsea’s final game of the season, a 1-1 draw with champions Leicester City but, with club owner Roman Abramovich watching from the stands, took the microphone to talk to the fans.
“We all want the same,” Terry said. “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.”
The 35-year-old’s eyes then began to well up as the fans interrupted him to chant: “John Terry, we want you to stay!”
It led Terry to continue in what also felt a little like a farewell address.
“On a personal note I’d like to thank everyone,” he said. “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.”
Earlier, in the 26th minute of the match, a host of fans held up posters reading “John Terry 26”, referring to the captain’s shirt number, leading him to acknowledge the show of support.
“I’m happy that they are now in contact and are talking. Personally, I hope they manage to come to a solution,” Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink said. “When they are talking then I mustn’t 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.”
Terry made his Chelsea debut in 1998 and has played over 700 games for the London club, leading them to four Premier League titles.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)