Defiant Chelsea captain John Terry yesterday brushed off criticism of his controversial farewell substitution at Stamford Bridge which caused a furore in the English media.
The 36-year-old central defender — who will leave Chelsea in the close season after 22 years at the club — was given a guard of honour by his teammates last weekend when he was substituted after 26 minutes (the same as his squad number) during a 5-1 final-day victory over Sunderland in the Premier League.
The arrangement was later described as contrived and embarrassing by some pundits while reports fans won money by betting on the substitution — and that Sunderland agreed to kick the ball out on 26 minutes — have added fuel to the fire.
Terry, however, has insisted he has no regrets and is certain the reaction will not tarnish his memories of an emotional farewell.
“I couldn’t care less, I promise you,” Terry told journalists ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Arsenal.
“All I care about is celebrating with my Chelsea fans because me and them have had an incredible rapport and have done for 22 years.
“No-one, whatever is written or said, can ever get in the way of that.
“If that’s the way I want to go out, that’s the way I go out.
“Because you know what, I’ve been 22 years here and won so many trophies that if I wanted to play one minute and come off I would have done.
“I wanted to play 26 minutes and come off because it meant a lot to me, the shirt number.
“As long as the supporters are happy — and I’m over the moon with the reception they gave me — I couldn’t case less,” added Terry, whose life off the pitch has been often controversial.
There is unlikely to be any repeat at Wembley on Saturday when Terry is expected to be a substitute.
However he does plan to lift the trophy with on-field captain Gary Cahill should Chelsea beat Arsenal to clinch a League and Cup ‘Double’ for the second time in their history.
“Hopefully we’ll share that moment,” he said.
“I’ve done that before with Frank Lampard when he was vice-captain — and Gazza (Cahill) has filled that role superbly too.”
As for his own future, Terry remains insistent he has not yet decided whether he will continue playing or opt to retire once the season is over although Premier League sides Bournemouth and Swansea have expressed interest in signing him.
“I need to get this game out of the way and finish well,” said Terry
“Then I owe it myself and the family to go away for a week after that and just switch off.
“It’s been football, football, football and I need to get away and be clear and know it’s the right thing I’m doing.
“I don’t have long because clubs are going to be making decisions and they are going to want to know.
“But for myself I need a week off.
“There’s enough left in the tank 100 per cent, for a year at least.
“But I don’t want to make a knee jerk decision and regret it at a later date. Everything is an option right now.”
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