LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expects departing captain John Terry to play beyond the end of the season, despite the former England centre-back hinting he may retire.
After scoring in Chelsea's 4-3 home victory over Watford on Monday, the Blues' first league outing since winning the Premier League, Terry said: "I still haven't ruled out Sunday being my last game and retiring.
"It depends if the right offer comes along. I'll sit down and consider it with my family, whether that offer is here or abroad or wherever that may be."
Chelsea finish the season at home to Sunderland on Sunday, before tackling Arsenal in the FA Cup final, and while Conte has come to terms with Terry's decision to leave, he believes he will not hang up his boots.
"No, absolutely not. John wants to continue to play," said Conte, whose side prevailed courtesy of an 88th-minute winner by substitute Cesc Fabregas.
"I wish for him and his family the best. Chelsea will always be his home because John, first of all, is a great man and a great player for Chelsea - and in future for the team he decides to play for.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him lift the (Premier League trophy) and I think all the players want to see this. This is the right finale for John.
"John took this decision to continue to play regularly and play every game and for this reason he preferred to leave Chelsea and to play every game I don't know where. For sure, for us this is a big loss next season."
Terry, making his 716th Chelsea appearance, put his side ahead in the 22nd minute at Stamford Bridge, but it was from the 36-year-old's loose header that Etienne Capoue equalised two minutes later.
Goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Michy Batshuayi restored and then extended Chelsea's lead, only for Watford to level through Daryl Janmaat and substitute Stefano Okaka.
But Fabregas came off the bench to sweep in Willian's pass and keep Chelsea on course to become the first team to win 30 games in a 38-game season in England's top division.
Terry said he was proud to be ending his time at the club with a fifth Premier League winners' medal and the FA Cup final still to come.
"If I could have written my story as a 14-year-old, when I signed on the pitch, this would have been it," he wrote in Monday's match-day programme.
"I never wanted to be that player, the kind who hangs about, and who people can't wait to get rid of," he said.
"I think the transition for myself, being on the bench and seeing it from a different aspect, has served me well and will serve me well if I go into management in the future.
"I never wanted to hang about and stop the progress of a younger player - that was the basis of my decision."
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Conte hinted that Terry is unlikely to start against relegated Sunderland on Sunday, as he wanted to get his FA Cup final team ready and playing ahead of the May 27 showdown against Arsenal.
"The FA Cup final, you don't play that on Saturday. You start to play the final 10 days before," he explained.
"At this moment I have 13 or 14 players and they deserve to play the FA Cup, and many players in good form. I have to take my time in these 12 days to make the decision. But, for sure, I have to pick the players who, for me, are in better form."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE