John Terry told by Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher to keep playing for as long as possible
John Terry has been told by Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher to play on for as long as he can after waving farewell to Stamford Bridge.
Captain Terry made his final Stamford Bridge appearance against Sunderland and Sunday’s FA Cup final against Arsenal, which he will not start, will be the 36-year-old’s last involvement with the club as a Chelsea player.
Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion are both set to make Terry offers to keep playing in the Premier League, and there is interest from abroad, but the central defender has still not fully ruled out retirement.
Terry, though, has been told not to hang up his boots after taking advice from a number of his old team-mates and opponents. “I have put in a few calls to ex-players, Carragher, Lamps, to loads,” said Terry.
“All everyone says is play as long as you can. I never want to be that player who says ‘I wish I’d played a couple more years’.
“You can’t replace these moments. When I went out to play on Monday night against Watford, the smell of the grass where it had rained and was a little bit zippy. All of those things you take for granted over the years they are the things you are going to miss.
“It’s those muddy pitches. They’re all much better now and have zip on them, but that feeling walking out - you can’t replace that.
“Ideally, I want to play as long as I can. Every ex-player I talk to says play as long as you can. Physically I know I can. Physically, this year I’m probably fitter than I’ve ever been under a manager that works with me on the tactical side of things. It just takes four or five games to get the sharpness, but the hunger is there inside me to push on to go on and win stuff.”
Terry will assess all of his offers before deciding whether to play on and where to move, and believes he needs a week away after the FA Cup final to clear his head.
“I know there’s been lots of rumours about other clubs and certain things, but I’ve not put too much thought to it because we still have the Cup final,” said Terry.
“Everything is an option. I’m not ruling anything out. Whether that be retirement, playing, going into management, this or that.
“Genuinely, I promise from the heart I haven’t thought about anything. My mind’s not clear enough to even do that. When I feel right I will have to do that. Obviously, pre-season starts and if I do decide to go on, I need to know in the summer whether I’m training or whether I’m not. These are the things I need to think about, but now is not the time.
“I need a good week away. Myself and the family deserve that, we need that. All the emotions of my last game at Stamford Bridge. My speech. None of it was planned. I played 26 minutes, but felt like I’d played 126 minutes.
“I felt physically drained. I need to take a step back away from the bubble and say ‘what does John Terry want to do?’
“Once you stop that’s it. Being a manager is probably the second best thing, TV, what the boys do, is the third best thing, but you can’t replace those butterflies before you go out and play.”
Having made 717 appearances for Chelsea and won 15 major trophies, a number that could rise to 16, Terry admits that he gets more nervous now than when he first started out as a professional. “As I’ve got older, I’ve got more nervous than I was as an 18-year-old,” said Terry.
“The excitement of winning, the pressure being at the top, the nerves. The big games are what I live for. “It’s not so much because I’m not playing as much, but just as I’ve got older. The last four or five years at the back end of my career really. When I was a teenager I just went out and played. You mature and along the way you make some mistakes.”
Terry has started his coaching badges in case he retires and concentrates on a move into management. On his progress, he said: “I’m almost halfway through my B Licence. There’s an A licence in the summer, but if I continue playing I won’t do that because I’ll need a holiday.
“If I stop playing I’ll push on with that and take the A licence. Honestly, I really don’t know. The family have been driving me mad about going away.”