John Terry: Leaving Chelsea 'the toughest decision of my life'
John Terry has called leaving Chelsea after 22 years "the toughest decision of my life," but said that he is looking forward to returning to Stamford Bridge "in some capacity in the future" once his playing career is over.
Chelsea announced on Monday that Terry will depart at the end of the season, bringing to an end a Blues career that has seen him make 713 appearances, including a club-record 578 as captain, and win 14 major honours including four Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League.
And in a statement posted on his official Instagram account on Wednesday, the 36-year-old thanked everyone who contributed to making his Chelsea career a success, including his family, Roman Abramovich, the managers and teammates he has worked with and the Blues supporters.
"It's with overwhelming emotion that earlier this week the club and I announced this will be my last season as a Chelsea player," Terry's statement read.
"This has been the toughest decision of my life for me and my family, but I always envisaged leaving on the right terms, in the right way and at the right time -- and that is now.
"I feel I still have regular football in me but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited, it is therefore time for a new challenge."
Terry did not give a clear indication of where his next move might be, though he is widely reported to be open to staying in the Premier League. Bournemouth, Stoke City, West Brom and Crystal Palace have all been linked with moves to sign him this summer.
"Wearing the armband and being your captain has been without doubt one of the proudest achievements of my life," Terry added. "I only hope I've been able to repay you with my commitment and loyalty throughout my career, and I look forward to returning to this great club in some capacity in the future.
"I want to stress that the journey is not yet over. There is a long way to go and we are committed to ending this campaign on a high. I am fully focused on helping the team and manager in every way I can from now until the end of the season."
Terry could still add to his extensive medal collection in his final months at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea four points clear at the top of the Premier League with six matches to go and set to face Tottenham in an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Saturday.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.