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Leading Chelsea my proudest achievement: John Terry

Since his debut with the first team in 1998, Terry has worn the Blues' jersey in 713 matches.

IANS | London |

English defender John Terry, who will leave Chelsea at the end of the season after 22 years at the club, said goodbye to the fans of the London side through an open letter, in which he said that being the Blues' captain has been his greatest achievement.

"Wearing the armband and being your captain has been without doubt one of the proudest achievements of my life," the English skipper said in the letter published on the club's website on Wednesday.

"This has been the toughest decision of my life for me and my family, but I always envisaged leaving on the right terms, in the right way and at the right time – and that is now." 

"I feel I still have regular football in me but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited, it is therefore time for a new challenge," the veteran centre-back added.

On Monday, Chelsea announced that Terry will leave the club at the end of the season when his contract expires, 19 seasons after making his debut with the first team, and 22 years after joining the club's youth group.

Since his debut with the first team in 1998, Terry has worn the Blues' jersey in 713 matches in which he has scored 66 goals.

The English defender, however, has been a starter in only four Premier League matches in the 2016-17 season.

The former England international also said that Chelsea has given him a platform to compete against the best and break records, when he became the Blues' most decorated player with 14 major honours, including one Champions League trophy, four Premier League titles, one Europa League, five FA Cups and three League Cups.

Terry thanked all his teammates and managers over the years, and said it "has been an honour" to share his phenomenal career with them.

The veteran defender, who was not a part of Antonio Conte's recent plans, has been rumoured to have received offers from China, the United States and Qatar, but did not want to reveal his future beyond the current season.

"I want to stress that the journey is not yet over. There is a long way to go and we are committed to ending this campaign on a high. I am fully focused on helping the team and manager in every way I can from now until the end of the season," Terry concluded.