LONDON (REUTERS) - Chelsea captain John Terry, who feared he had played his last game for the club, has been offered a new one-year contract, interim manager Guus Hiddink said on Friday.
Hiddink, who is preparing for his final Premier League match, at home to champions Leicester City on Sunday, told a news conference Terry was considering the offer.
The former England defender is out of contract at the end of the season and said earlier this year he expected to leave.
“(Director) Marina Granovskaia and (chairman) Bruce Buck met with John and his agent this week and offered him a one-year contract extension,” a club spokesman said. “With it coming so late in the season, this is a big decision for John and his family and it is something that they are now considering.”
The news suggests that new manager Antonio Conte, who takes over after leading Italy at Euro 2016, wants to keep the former England captain, who is hugely popular with supporters.
They staged a protest in the 26th minute of Wednesday’s game at Liverpool – because Terry wears shirt number 26 – urging the club not to let him leave.
If Terry decides to stay it will provide a lift for the club’s followers at the end of a poor season in defence of their Premier League title.
They were sixteenth in the table following defeat at Leicester in December, after which Jose Mourinho was sacked, and cannot now finish any higher than ninth.
Terry had hinted more recently that staying on might be possible.
“I still want to play a couple more years and hopefully that’s at Chelsea,” he told Sky Sports earlier this week. “I’m a Chelsea player, Chelsea’s been my club from the age of 14.”
That was 21 years ago. He made his first-team debut in 1998 and is one of only three players to have appeared more than 700 games for the west London side.
Receiving a red card against Sunderland last weekend meant he was suspended for the final two league games, which appeared to mark an unfortunate end to a Chelsea career that included winning 14 major trophies.
Now he may yet be back next season, which would please departing manager Hiddink. “To spend 21 years at a club is huge, that’s why he and others become legends,” the Dutchman said.
Gary Cahill, who has played many games alongside Terry, told Sky Sports earlier that his team-mate would be hard to replace.
“It would be very difficult. Not only as a player but as a character in the dressing-room.
“For me he’s been one of the best centre-backs the Premier League has seen.”