John Terry defends Sunderland substitution and 'couldn't care less' about criticism

Terry left the field in the 26th minute
Terry left the field in the 26th minute
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John Terry has defended his controversial Stamford Bridge send-off last weekend.

The Chelsea defender was playing his final game for the club and was named in the starting XI by manager Antonio Conte. On 26 minutes, however, he was replaced by Gary Cahill as his team-mates formed a guard of honour near the touchline.

26 is the shirt number he has worn without his career.

Sunderland were heavily criticised for their part in the tribute, with David Moyes confirming that they had deliberately kicked the ball out play in order to allow the change to happen. Jordan Pickford kicked it out after a request from Diego Costa.

Conte admitted he had been aware of the plans which Terry, who came up with the idea, said was a 'compromise' between the pair.

The 36-year-old was unrepentant despite fierce criticism.

He said: “I couldn’t care less, I promise you.

"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.”

Moyes had insisted that Terry 'deserved' a send-off, and Terry was thrilled with his reception o n his home ground.

He said: “It was an unbelievable send-off from the supporters to help me to celebrate 22 years at the club,

“I’m very grateful to them, and it was something I will never forget. It was so emotional after the game, I was in bits.”