This article was first published on July 5, 2011.
UPDATE: 17th July, 2011 – The Chelsea Reserves, immediately after resuming training, took on Crawly Town yesterday and lost 6-1. Even in such a heavy defeat, there was palpable happiness all around – Sam Hutchinson, who had announced his retirement in August, 2010, before serving as a mentor to the academy, pursuing his sports science education and analyzing youth team games, astonishingly started for the reserves at right-back. Hutch, as he is adoringly called, not just started but also captained the team.
While we, at TheHardTackle, and football fans world-wide were wishing him luck, with an heavy heart, for pursuing his dreams beyond his playing career, the young Englishman defied all odds to take the field again, as a Chelsea player. We salute his passion, his determination and his never-say-die spirit, and hope that a day comes when Sam makes the right-back position for the Chelsea first team, his own.
Sam Hutchinson has announced his retirement as a professional footballer.
Unfortunately the 21-year-old defender suffered a recurrence of the knee injury that affected his past three seasons and it is has been decided he will not recover sufficiently for the physical demands of a professional career.
Hutchinson will continue to be supported by Chelsea Football Club and will work in our Academy while also studying sports science at university. He will later pursue coaching qualifications.
Hutch – Once a Blue, always a Blue.
In August, 2010, Chelsea Football Club poignantly announced that one of their own, Sam Hutchinson, had retired, and the announcement broke the hearts of fans across the world.
Samuel Edward Hutchinson, or Hutch, was poised to emulate John Terry by establishing himself in the Chelsea first team. Son of former Chelsea youth team player, Eddie Hutchinson, Sam joined The Blues at the age of 9, and progressed through the ranks, impressing one and all, on his way. He captained the youth team, and then the reserves, knocking on the first team doors earnestly. He represented England at every level, from under-16 to under-20, and was also called-up for the under-21 side, but had to withdraw due to injury.
Both Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, managers who oversaw his playing career, spoke highly of him. Jose once said, “I know his mentality and I know he’ll be a Chelsea player. The kid has big potential and because of his size, we have to decide if he can be a top central defender or a top right back. We have to see the definition of his body and make a decision.” His seniors rated him, his teammates at the youth and reserve levels respected him, and the fans just adored him. Equally comfortable at right-back or in the center of defense, Hutch could have preempted the problem Chelsea now face, as the club tries to find a long term solution for the role of right-back. Alas, it was not to be.
The young lad was expectedly heart-broken, seeing his dreams come crashing down, and would have found the set-back hard to recover from, had Chelsea FC not put a reassuring hand on his shoulders. The ruthless club, as Chelsea is so often seen, not only showed Sam a way to still pursue his passion, football, but also made him stay at the club.
“We are sad, disappointed about this, he decided to retire after very strong work to recover from his injury. He was not able to do this but now we are together to look forward to support him in everything. He will start to study sports science, he will start to train with our Academy, and we would like that he stays in our family because he has a strong character and showed this during the years when he tried to recover from the injury. He is a very good man and can have a fantastic job here in Chelsea and support us with his character. Obviously he is sad now but he has to look forward, there are a lot of things. You can’t play but you can do different jobs in football, he loves football and we will support his passion.” – Carlo Ancelotti, after Sam announced his retirement.
Today, Hutch works closely with the academy graduates, supporting them as they reach a defining period in their careers by talking to them, guiding them, and understanding their concerns on a day-to-day basis, while continuing to work towards acquiring his coaching badges. Sam was in their position as recently as 10 months back, and can definitely understand them better than someone who is much more older to the players. Also, someone like McEachran or Lalkovic would certainly be more forthcoming while discussing with Sam, than with any other member of the coaching staff. His involvement with Chelsea TV, the club’s in-house channel, for Youth Cup matches last season demonstrated how tactically aware and insightful he can be.
“Depending on my schedule I speak to them up to three times a week, I just chat with them and see how they’re going. ‘They’re top lads and they work hard. Most of them have come through all the way at Chelsea and have the right mentality of an Academy player, they’re down to earth and on a level.” – Sam Hutchinson
As Hutch prepares for the next phase in his life, he needs to realign his priorities, and harness his strengths acquired during his playing days, to either make his way to the top of football broadcasting or to a fruitful coaching career. If it’s the latter he chooses, he would not find a better source of inspiration than the new manager of Chelsea Football Club – Andre Villas-Boas. The new manager is proof that Hutch need not play at the highest levels to earn his plaudits as a manager.
Villas-Boas wasn’t talented enough to have a successful playing career, and even at the age of 16, he was discerning enough to come to this conclusion. Hutchinson, on the other hand, was talented enough to make it big as a player but had to sadly retire due to things beyond his control.
Andre’s understanding of the game was second to none. He further backed his tactical knowledge with his perseverance and a keen eye for detail. Sam was known for his superior game-reading skills, never-say-die spirit, and leadership potential during his brief career with Chelsea. Then, as a resident pundit for the in-house channel, he won over the audience with his insightful analysis of the youth team’s matches – a refreshing change from what we’ve become accustomed to over the years.
A young boy was once asked to work as a trainee with Porto’s youth team, in addition to studying for his coaching badges, after Sir Bobby Robson was impressed with his tactical nous. Today, Chelsea plays a very similar role in Hutch‘s life.
André, who spent three years at Chelsea under José Mourinho, will be marvelling at the turn of events that have now seen him take over his former master’s role. Perhaps during the course of his tenure, André might receive an insightful letter from a former Chelsea youth squad member on why he should trust Bertrand and Aanholt rather than sign a new left-back. It’s then, the story that started with André’s own letter to Sir Bobby Robson, will have come full-circle.