John Terry has confirmed that he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season. The Blues skipper, who has spent 22 years at his one and only club, has started just four league games this season.
Despite an outstanding career, 'incidents' both on and off the pitch have seen Terry become one of the most reviled figures in modern football - outside of Chelsea, at least.
The butt of almost every 'don't leave the house or he'll sleep with your missus' gag for the best part of a decade, the Chelsea legend's most reviled incident saw him banned for four matches and fined £220,000 after the FA adjudged him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand in 2012. The previous July, Terry had been cleared by Westminster Magistrates' Court of racially abusing Ferdinand.
At the time, Terry maintained the incident to be a complete misunderstanding, and via a spokesperson voiced his disappointment that the FA would find him guilty where a court of law did not. It would culminate in his standing down from his role as England captain and retiring from international football months later.
Terry has notably kept more to himself since, enjoying an Indian summer at Chelsea under José Mourinho before slipping further into the shadows under Antonio Conte - a recent BT Sport appearance aside.
Despite being written off as a character by some quarters, his fellow Chelsea icons in Pat Nevin and Graeme Le Saux - two outspoken equality advocates and anti-racism activists - paint an entirely different picture of the player who, rightly or wrongly, has spent the bones of his career depicted as a villain.
Nevin and LeSaux joined Gavan Casey on our new football podcast, Friends in Football, and despite their activism outside of football, explained that Terry was a wholly misunderstood character.
A two-time Chelsea Player of the Year, Nevin said of the Blues skipper:
Terry is quite incredible as a mentor - what he's doing, showing an attitude in certain areas that people don't understand. He's one of the most misunderstood footballers I've ever come across in my life. If you watch him with fans, if you watch him at any get together when he's with everyone, he has got one of the most incredible personalities I've ever met in the game.
Now, considering my politics, my background, what I've worked in, you do not expect to hear that from me. But I've watched him closely. He's a pretty special individual in a lot of areas, and he will pass a lot of incredibly positive things on.
LeSaux, who joined Nevin on the line from London as his 'friend in football', recalled one example of Terry's generosity which took place during a pre-season tour of the Far East.
It's funny because, that public image of him and some of the 'baggage', shall we say that he's collected along the way, it's such a shame - for many reasons, of course.
But one quick example, I remember I was out in Hong Kong with the team a few years ago, and we were hosting a family to go and meet a few of the players. The daughter of this family was probably about eight, and I said to her, 'if you get to meet one player as they go to get on the bus, who would you like to meet?'
She [gave] a toss-up between Frank [Lampard] and John, so I said, 'okay, look, let's see if we can get you to meet both of them'. Anyway, John came out and I introduced them. And as he was just about to go, he paused, opened his washbag, and he took out his captain's armband from this pre-season friendly.
He obviously realised he had it in his washbag, took it out, called her back, put it on her arm and said: 'You're Chelsea captain now'. No cameras around, there's no publicity, but it was just a wonderfully thoughtful gesture. And that girl - I mean that would have absolutely made her life. She'll never forget that.
I've actually seen him do that sort of thing more than I've seen any other professional footballer in my life. That sort of thing is absolutely him. And he does it when no one's watching.
Despite having played for the same club and, in LeSaux's case, alongside Terry, it's still somewhat surprising to hear two former players of Nevin and LeSaux's off-field ilk paint him in a different light given that both men have been outspoken about issues such as racism and homophobia in football for years.
The full first episode of Friends in Football with Pat Nevin and Graeme LeSaux is packed full of fascinating yarns from both men, and is available to download on iTunes (simply search 'Balls.ie football' and select 'podcasts'). Or, if you fancy it, you can listen to it here.