Chelsea door NOT closed on John Terry
Guus Hiddink has been in John Terry's shoes and knows just how hard it is to accept that the end may be nigh.
The Chelsea interim manager learned the hard way as a player that nobody is irreplaceable - no matter how important they are - and his captain is facing a similar prospect.
Placed in a difficult position by Terry's public declaration that he is not being offered a new contract by Chelsea, Hiddink was at pains yesterday to stress this is not necessarily the end for the 35-year-old at Stamford Bridge.
However, Hiddink also suggested that Chelsea could be right to take the decision out of Terry's hands, as a players are not always the best judge of the right time to move on.
"For every player or manager, the age comes when you have to say goodbye to people," Hiddink, 69, said.
"It's difficult. I can help John prepare. I had the same experience because I loved the game so much and quitting is difficult. Managers told me to step off the pitch when I was 36. Sometimes you don't see it yourself.
"I had a few players, also national teams, where I had to say 'It's time to say goodbye'. It's very difficult because those are legends, big players, and that hurts for a player.
"Whatever your job is afterwards, if you were so passionate about playing football, whatever you do afterwards is a substitute for what you love."
Hiddink said that Terry had been playing "perfectly" and that he was "not normal" for a 35-year-old player, but in fact better.
Chelsea's interim manager has picked Terry for every league match since he took charge of the team just before Christmas and will do so again for tonight's date with Watford at Vicarage Road, where Terry is certain to be vocally supported by the travelling Chelsea fans.
"I like very much the way he is playing and that he is committed to the team," Hiddink said.
"John is doing perfectly in his performances. He can carry on (playing), of course. He is fit, his ambition is enough to carry on."
After restating that the club had not yet decided on Terry's future, Hiddink added: "The door is not shut. Dialogue is always possible.
"John's statistics - and not just that but also the view I have on him - (show) that he is very fit. He is not what you normally see in a 35-year-old player, that you feel you are getting a bit slower, and cannot accept that you are in a danger zone for red cards."
Alexandre Pato, the new loan signing from Corinthians in Brazil, is unlikely to feature tonight as he is "some way off fitness", according to Hiddink. (© Daily Telegraph, London).
Watford v Chelsea, Live, BT Sport 7.45