Former Chelsea and England captain John Terry has retired.

"After 23 incredible years as a footballer, I have decided now is the right time to retire from playing," Terry said yesterday. "As a 14-year-old, I made my best and biggest decision: to sign for Chelsea.

"Words will never be enough to show how much everyone at the club means to me, in particular the fans. My club career and heart will always belong to Chelsea. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and the challenges ahead."

The 37-year-old center back captained Aston Villa in the Championship last season but left the club in the off-season. Villa fired manager Steve Bruce last week and media reports have linked Terry with a job on the coaching staff.

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Having joined the Chelsea youth ranks, Terry made his senior debut in 1998 and was appointed captain in 2004. His physical presence, anticipation and leadership made him the outstanding figure in defence as the club enjoyed a run of trophy success.

On the continent, he collected the Champions League in 2012, despite being suspended for the final, and the Europa League the following year.

As a key part of Chelsea's resurgence after their 2003 takeover by controversial Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Terry also won the Premier League five times, FA Cup five times and League Cup three times.

- AP