Stamford Bridge erupted in celebration on Sunday as departing Chelsea captain John Terry lifted the Premier League trophy in Antonio Conte’s record-breaking first season in charge, but the carnival atmosphere had a bitter-sweet edge.
Terry, 22 years at the club and 13 as captain, started the final league game of the season and wept as fans sang his name after unfurling banners describing him as “captain, leader, legend”.
Terry, who may earn a last run-out for the club he joined as a 14-year-old schoolboy at the FA Cup final at Wembley next Saturday, merited a supplement in the match programmer handed out for free at the ground. He has made 717 appearances for Chelsea.
The visibly emotional former England captain thanked owner Roman Abramovich, the supporters, his wife and children as well as staff and players in an address at the end of the game.
He said Sunday was “one of the most difficult days of my life”.
He then hugged Conte and passed the microphone. “He’s been fantastic and very important for me and the players,” Conte said while Cahill called him “the best center half in Premier League history”.
It was Chelsea’s fifth title since Abramovich bought the club in 2003. During that time the club have also won four FA Cups.