Former England captain John Terry has rejected more lucrative offers from Chelsea’s Premier League rivals to join Championship club Aston Villa on a one-year deal.
After spending 22 years at Stamford Bridge, where he won five Premier League titles and 10 other major honours, 36-year-old defender Terry became a free agent on Saturday and was unveiled as a Villa player yesterday.
Having been welcomed to the midlands by Villa’s owner Tony Xia on Twitter in the morning, Villa then announced Terry’s arrival on social media in an imaginary WhatsApp conversation between their chairman, boss Steve Bruce, Terry and a number of players.
It was an unusual step, not unlike the one the 78-cap international has taken in swapping the Premier League champions for a club in the division beneath them.
Yet Terry has revealed the prospect of facing his former long-time employers Chelsea with a new top-flight team — such as confirmed suitors Swansea or West Brom — dissuaded him from staying in the Premier League.
“Playing against Chelsea just doesn’t sit right with me, to be honest,” he said..
“Whether that’s different in a year’s time, I don’t know. The raw emotion of leaving the club after so long there just didn’t sit right with me.
“I had a lot of big financial offers to play in the Premier League and still play at the top, but once I took that decision out of it — that I wasn’t playing in the Premier League — this was an easy one for me.
“For a few weeks I switched off and a lot of managers gave me a lot of time and respect to make my decision and come to terms with it.
“After 22 years at Chelsea it took a few weeks longer than I probably predicted. They were 22 fantastic and unbelievable years that I will never forget but I’m excited about this challenge here of getting us up.”
The Swans and Baggies were not the only clubs hoping they would be the chosen destination for Terry’s next step.
Harry Redknapp confirmed Villa’s cross-city rivals Birmingham offered the veteran defender terms, while other offers from much further afield were on the table.
“It wasn’t a financial decision, if that was the case I certainly wouldn’t be here,” Terry added.
“I could have played in the Premier League — I had offers from other Premier League clubs, with a lot more money — or on other continents.
“I’m here because the hunger and the ambition is the exact same as mine, and that’s to win this league and get back to the Premier League.”
There will be no coaching role for Terry with the Villains, though he has shown a keenness to eventually follow that route and sees Bruce and Villa’s director of football Steve Round, one of the defender’s former England coaches, as ideal mentors.
His immediate focus, one that became clear when he continued to train last month, is on extending a senior career that began with a debut against Aston Villa back in 1998.
Terry was unsure whether he would retire after he bade Chelsea farewell in May — when Bruce first approached the Villa hierarchy about signing him.
The two played golf together in Portugal last month and Bruce’s sales pitch revolved around Terry’s desire to carry on.
“We’ve had many conversations, but most of it was about playing the last few years of your career,” Bruce revealed.
“I think he can still go on beyond this year but that’s going to be about John’s intent.”
Bruce added: “John has certainly go to be the most decorated player in the Championship. He has real calibre.
“We know what he brings. It’s not often you get a natural leader of men these days. But certainly John has been that over many years.
“I have watched John from afar for a long, long time. To get him here is a great coup for us all because of what he can bring to the club.
“It’s a huge acquisition for all of us and sends out a message of intent.
“I know there’s excitement among the lads in the dressing room because it’s not every day someone of John’s calibre walks through the door. That can only help the dressing room.”
Terry brought the curtain down on his Blues career in controversial fashion in May having planned to be substituted in the 26th minute, a nod to his shirt number, against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.
It is understood the FA is continuing to look into the matter after concern was raised when three punters who wagered a bet on Terry’s specifically-timed substitution were paid out by a bookmaker.
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