Former Chelsea and England captain John Terry has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 37 as he prepares to move into coaching.
Terry, who has been without a club since leaving Aston Villa on a free transfer in May and was close to joining Spartak Moscow in September before having a change of heart, announced the decision on his official Instagram account.
Last week, he helped prepare Chelsea U19s for a UEFA Youth League match against Danish club Molde that they went on to win 10-1, and he is reportedly set to return to Villa as assistant to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
“After 23 incredible years as a footballer, I have decided now is the right time for me to retire from playing,” Terry said.
“I want to thank my amazing teammates, coaches, managers and backroom staff, who I was honoured to work with and learn from. They all guided me on my way to playing 717 games for the club I love, and it was a privilege to serve them as captain.
“They also helped me achieve my boyhood dream of playing for and captaining England, of which I am immensely proud.
“I look forward to the next chapter in my life and the challenges ahead.”
Terry joined Chelsea’s academy from West Ham at the age of 14 and made his first-team debut as a substitute in a League Cup victory over Villa in October 1998.
After a brief spell on loan at Nottingham Forest he established himself as a regular starter at Stamford Bridge and was named club captain by Jose Mourinho after Marcel Desailly’s retirement in the summer of 2004.
He went on to lift 18 major trophies at Chelsea including five Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League before joining Villa when he was released in the summer of 2017, leading the club to the Championship playoff final last season where they were defeated by Fulham at Wembley.
Regarded as one of the greatest defenders of his generation, Terry was also a hugely divisive player outside of Chelsea as a result of a series of off-field controversies.
He was stripped of the England captaincy twice and retired from international football in 2012 in a cloud of acrimony after the Football Association opted to charge him with racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
Terry was capped 78 times for England and made 717 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, a tally bettered only by legendary former defender and captain Ron “Chopper” Harris.