Terry will leave Chelsea after 22 seasons in the summer but wants to continue playing.
“I am not surprised about this [the reaction]," Conte said.
"I am repeating that John, for me in this first season, is very important. He is helping me on and off the pitch.
“He is a great captain, the problem is that John wants to play regularly and for this reason we have to respect his decision. I was a footballer and when you arrive in this point of your career, and your body tells you to continue it is right to.
“We have to respect his decision.
“If you ask me if next season it is a serious loss...yes, I think so. I am seeing what John is doing this season in the changing room. We are building a foundation and he is important to this."