Outgoing Chelsea captain John Terry "could not care less" about the criticism levelled at him for the manner of his substitution against Sunderland on Sunday (21 May) in his final game at Stamford Bridge. The ex-England skipper was substituted in the 26th minute - matching his shirt number - against the Black Cats and given a guard of honour by his teammates.
The act was pre-arranged between both clubs after Terry had asked permission from manager Antonio Conte prior to the game and the circumstances surrounding the act has drawn derision from the football community. Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Garth Crooks were among those to attack the scripted mid-game distraction. "This is not Hollywood," he said. "This is a Premier League fixture. I am a bit uncomfortable with it to be honest with you."
But Terry, 36, is unconcerned by the detractors and does not want anything to muddle his bond with the Chelsea supporters. "I couldn't care less [about the criticism], I promise you,' Terry said, according to The Daily Mail. "All I care about is celebrating with my Chelsea fans.
"Me and them have a wonderful rapport and have done for 22 years. Nothing that people write or say 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 I've been here 22 years, I've won so many trophies — so if I wanted to play one minute and come off, I would have done.
"I wanted to play 26 minutes because the shirt number means a lot to me and the supporters so as long as they are happy — and I was over the moon with the reception — I promise you I could not care less."
Conte showed his sentimental side when he let Terry have his moment against Sunderland, but the Italian will almost certainly restore the Chelsea veteran to the substitutes' bench on Saturday [27 May] when the newly crowned Premier League champions take on Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley.