When you say the word ‘hero’ around Stamford Bridge, most supporters will call out names such as Frank Lampard, John Terry or Ashley Cole and that would be a natural reaction. But this season has bought us a new candidate, a modern day hero, in the name of Sam Hutchinson.
I remember being a young boy kicking the ball around in the park with friends, jumpers for goalposts, playing headers and volleys, dreaming of being a professional footballer. We all played for the local youth sides just hoping to be spotted by the talent scout, but for the majority of us, it never came. You’d have to be one lucky lad to make it to an academy; Sam Hutchinson was that lucky lad.
Hutchinson, whose father played for the Chelsea youth side, has been at Chelsea from the age of seven within the academy ranks and he made his first team debut in 2007 against Everton. He continued to play the odd first team game in between getting through some frequent injuries, and he started his first match against QPR in 2009. Sam Hutchinson, the former academy boy, was now turning out for Chelsea FC, what an incredible achievement for any young boy with a dream. How quickly a dream can turn to a nightmare, especially in Sam’s case.
In August 2010 Hutchinson’s world got turned upside down, after continuing to struggle with a re-occurring knee injury, Sam, along with medical advice, decided to retire from football after just three senior seasons at the tender age of twenty-one. His dream was over.
For most people, this would be enough to devastate and ground you, but not Sam, in fact, this is when Sam stepped up his desire and determination to succeed. He couldn’t play any longer, but his love of the game and his drive for success saw him continue to work in Chelsea’s academy, whilst at the same time studying Sports Science at university. He also did his FA coaching qualifications and off the back of this, got offered a role alongside Paolo Di Canio as First Team Coach at Swindon Town, which he rejected.
Sam didn’t want to be a First Team Coach at this early age. In the meantime his knee injury had shown ‘significant improvement’ and beyond all belief this determined young footballer fought back to fitness and incredibly came out of retirement to re-sign a new one-and-a-half year contract with Chelsea FC, who admirably gave Sam another chance. These were incredible circumstances that captured the hearts of every single Chelsea supporter out there and from then on Sam Hutchinson earned his label as a modern day Chelsea hero, a real lion heart who deserved his place in the same squad as John Terry and Frank Lampard. Hutchinson had achieved what many called ‘the impossible’.
This incredible fairytale story hit a high on 29th April 2012 when on an enjoyable afternoon at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were easing to a comfortable 6-1 win over QPR. It was nearing the end of the game when the fourth official held up the substitute’s board to signal for Jose Bosingwa to be replaced. The roar around Stamford Bridge when the number 27 went up to replace him was magnificent, Sam Hutchinson was back, against all the odds, this heroic former academy player who retired due to injury, was back representing the blues again. A proud moment for all involved and proof that a hero doesn’t always have to be the players who get the goals or make the tackles. Sam showed pure grit and determination to get back playing and long may it continue. With this season’s right back slot currently being vacant, there is a chance for Sam to shine.
Rated very highly amongst staff and supporters at Chelsea FC, Sam Hutchinson has every chance to feature as a regular this season and could even create an all-English backline with Terry, Cahill and Cole. He got his reward for good form on the final day of the season when he started in the 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers and was very impressive. He also finished the season with a Champions League winner’s medal, quite some achievement for a young man who had retired from football just two years previous.
So to conclude a story that you’d expect to see in a Hollywood film made by Disney, everything is possible, don’t let your dreams be dreams and never give up.