Premier League leaders Chelsea have announced that long-serving captain John Terry is to leave the club at the end of the season.
The former England international has spent his entire career to date with the Blues, having first joined their youth ranks in 1995.
After 22 years of loyal service which have delivered 713 appearances, including a record 578 as skipper, the 36-year-old will move on once his current contract expires.
Terry will depart as a club legend at Stamford Bridge, having lifted four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League over the course of a distinguished career.
He has slipped down the pecking order under Antonio Conte this season, though, and is now ready to take on a new challenge.
Terry told Chelsea’s official website: “After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club. From coaches, team-mates and staff to the fans who have given me so much support down the years, I can’t thank you enough. There will be opportunities for me to speak further about this over the coming weeks.
“I will decide on my future in due course, but for now I am committed to helping the team achieve success this season.
“The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days. We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it's the right time for me to leave. I’ve always been conscious that I depart at the right time, in the right way, and I feel that the end of this season is the right time for the club and I.
“I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me. I’m eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.
Everybody at Stamford Bridge would like to express our enormous gratitude to John and wish him the very best of luck for the future. pic.twitter.com/Yo9NrXNBMs — Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 17, 2017
“Finally, words cannot describe the love I have for our football club and our amazing Chelsea fans. I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for the unbelievable support you've shown me over the years. You mean the world to me and every trophy we've won during my time at the club we've won together. I will never forget the incredible journey we've been on. Thank you so much for everything.'
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “Everyone at Chelsea would like to place on record our thanks to John for all he has done for this football club. He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause.
“In that time, Chelsea has grown into one of the world’s top clubs and it is only right that John’s contribution is recognised. He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future.”
Terry is one of just five defenders to have won the prestigious PFA Player of the Year award – taking that prize in 2004-05 – and was named in the FIFA/FIFPro World Team of the Year in five successive seasons from 2005 to 2009.
He has also made the PFA Team of the Year on four occasions, mostly recently in 2014-15, and earned 78 caps for England before retiring from international football in 2012.