Gary Cahill has left a classy message for the Blues as his Chelsea career comes to an end/
“If you look at the big picture, not this season, I think in terms of myself and Chelsea, we have been good for each other,” said Cahill. “They have been great for me and given me the platform to express myself on the biggest stage and I feel I have given everything for the club and for the shirt when I’ve played. And I’ve been lucky enough to be in a lot of successful teams that have won a lot of trophies.”
When I first signed and walked into that dressing room with so many iconic players, I just knew Chelsea was where I wanted to be,” he said. “I could have pursued a move elsewhere, but I wanted to win and Chelsea felt right for that. I wanted to compete every year for trophies and Chelsea is that club.
“It took a few weeks for me to say to myself ‘you know what, I can play at this level’ and then when I got that confidence I went from strength to strength. I wanted the massive names and the stars to know I could play.
“I feel privileged to have been involved in Chelsea teams with such legendary players as Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, JT and Lamps, and the list goes on. To witness how they train and work has been a blessing for me. All my best years in football have been in the last six or seven years.
“But look at the players who have come and lasted one or two years and you see a club like Chelsea can be very difficult. It’s a ruthless environment, you sink or swim and half of that is ability and the other half is mentality. You have to be able to handle the stings.”
John was someone I admired when I wasn’t at the club and admired even more when I played and worked with him,” said Cahill. “When it was clear he was leaving, it was a bit like when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in terms of the captaincy, ‘who’s going to take that’? But also ‘who’s not going to take it?’
“John was great when he wasn’t playing and he was still club captain and I was captaining the team. We won the title that year and I played near enough every game. I remember in the tunnel before we got the trophy, he was adamant that I should wear the armband when we lifted it together. That was a mark of what he is like.
“Then I took on the club captaincy after John left and that’s part of the reason why last season’s FA Cup win was so big for me. I wanted to win it because I had missed the final with injury in my first season and I really wanted to lift the Cup with the armband on as club captain.”
“It’s been really terrible for me personally,” said Cahill. “It will just be erased out of my head when I leave Chelsea. My last memory will be last season’s FA Cup final.
“It’s been very difficult. I have played on a regular basis over the previous six seasons and I’ve won everything with Chelsea, so to be watching from the stands is something I didn’t expect. I know how the whole club works, I’ve got a big relationship with all the players and staff, and yet none of that has been utilised.
“If you are not playing a player, any player, for two, three, four games, then you don’t have to give a reason for that. But if it gets to eight or nine games, then you have to explain the situation. What’s going on? But the manager hasn’t done that. I see some of the situations with players who won the title with Chelsea, not just myself, and it just hasn’t been right. It makes it very hard for me to have respect for someone who has not respected what some of us have won with the club.”
As difficult as it has been, Cahill kept his counsel until now and added: “I’m quite proud with how I have dealt with it. I’ve not been disruptive and I’ve trained hard every single day.
“I’ve got a respect for all the other people at the club, the players and the staff and the people who helped to give me a chance, so it’s been important to me to conduct myself in the right way. And when you see an Ethan Ampadu, or another young player coming through, he can see how you behave every day, so you have to set the right example.”
“I went to the World Cup and didn’t play, but I came back with an even higher opinion of Gareth Southgate,” he said. “It’s all about how you treat somebody.”
“People talk as though my career is coming to an end, but it’s not like that for me at all,” said Cahill. “I 100 per cent see me playing another three or four years easily in terms of the way I look after myself.
“I’m ready to go and I leave this club thankful to all the players, staff and fans who have helped me so much, and I go with my head held high.”