Many Chelsea fans will be aware that young defender Sam Hutchinson was forced into a premature retirement last summer.
After struggling with severe pain in both knees for years, Hutchinson felt that the time had come to call a day on his playing career and to focus his attentions elsewhere going forward.
And whilst he is no longer playing in a blue shirt, Sam has shown in the immediate months away from the pitch that he has a number of other talents.
When the announcement was made, Chelsea noted that ‘Hutch’ would remain involved at the club, specifically in the academy, whilst working towards sports science qualifications.
His role at Cobham, meanwhile, was unknown to begin with, but in recent times more has become clear, as the club have given him some well-deserved face time.
Sam’s day to day work consists of working towards his coaching badges whilst undertaking a mentoring role for some of the older academy players. Chief amongst these are the likes of Josh McEachran and Todd Kane, and Sam explains what this role entails in the latest issue of the Chelsea FC Magazine:
“I’m just looking after their welfare and their lifstyle outside of football, having a quick chat with them to see how it’s all going. Everything’s pretty informal, which is good.”
However, he will be most familar lately as a pundit and co-commentator on Chelsea TV, specialising – as you would expect – in coverage of the youth and reserve teams.
Despite having no experience in the field of broadcasting, Hutchinson has taken to television like a duck to water and indeed, his analysis has been a refreshingly insightful one.
For whilst the majority of pundits and commentators on television are long since removed from the game and largely speak in cliches, Sam has only recently stopped playing and is still involved on a day to day level.
His understanding of Chelsea’s coaching methods and tactical philosophies are a natural bonus, but the way he is able to project upon the viewer what the players are thinking and doing makes for an interesting listen.
When negatives occur during play, he has been quick to find positives and explain why the player and/or team can build on that situation the next time it arises.
And, although he is a Chelsea fan and employee working for the club’s in-house channel, some Arsenal fans had words of praise for his balanced punditry during this week’s reserve match at Cobham, which finished 2-2.
It was obviously a heart-wrenching moment to call time on his playing days, but the club have been excellent at helping Sam’s transition into a new phase of his life a positive one, giving him plenty to do.
They have a history of looking after their own and a quick scan of the coaching staff in the academy reveals the likes of Ed Brand, Joe Edwards, Andy Myers and James Simmonds amongst a number of others who came through the club ranks and returned when a professional career failed to materialise.
The task of developing tomorrow’s footballers demands a great many people and is a huge operation, meaning that there is plenty of scope for the likes of Hutchinson to progress and help the club in ways they may not have imagined before.
Sam was a fine player who looked like he could become a regular member of the first-team squad at Stamford Bridge. It turns out he’s also pretty good at a lot of other things.
Who knows? Maybe he could be Andy Gray’s long-term replacement…