Conte hails ‘legend’ Terry after Bridge finale

Antonio Conte felt John Terry was given a fitting send-off in the Chelsea captain’s final match at Stamford Bridge.

Terry, who is leaving this summer, was given a hero’s reception as he led out the newly-crowned champions for their final league match of the campaign, against Sunderland.

And there were emotional scenes when Chelsea’s legendary number 26 was substituted in the 26th minute.

Terry’s team-mates formed a guard of honour and he struggled to hold back tears as he left the pitch.

He embraced his replacement, Gary Cahill, placing the captain’s armband around him in a symbolic as well as emotional gesture, before also embracing boss Conte as well as the Blues substitutes and backroom staff.

The 26th-minute substitution was Terry’s idea, although Conte appeared to suggest Chelsea’s players also had an input.

He said: “It was very important to find the right solution to celebrate a great champion and a legend for this club.

“He deserved to start this game and then, to have this substitution in the 26th minute, I think he deserved this.

“This idea of my players recognised a legend of this club and one of the best defenders in the world. He deserved that substitution and the guard of honour.

“For me and the club it will be a great loss without him here next season. He helped me a lot this season on and off the pitch.”

Chelsea ended the campaign in style, thrashing relegated Sunderland 5-1 to become the first team to win 30 Premier League matches in a season.

“There was a lot of emotion today,” said Conte.

“It was great to finish the season this way – to celebrate with our fans and win the league with 30 wins.

“Someone could think this season was easy but it was not easy. We overcame a lot of difficult steps and we must be proud.”

After Chelsea had been presented with the Premier League trophy, Terry was full of emotion as he addressed the crowd from the pitch.

He thanked his family, Chelsea managers and players past and present and club owner Roman Abramovich before speaking of his gratitude to Blues supporters.

“Thank you, the best supporters in the world, without a doubt,” Terry said.

“You’ve given me everything from the age of 14, picked me up when I was down and sung my name when I’ve had bad games and disappointed you.

“Thank you will never be enough. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I love you all.”

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