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Exclusive: Chelsea defender needed painkillers to train

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Laurence Griffiths

WAGNH has learned that Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson required painkillers in order to get through training when he first arrived to Vitesse Arnhem in September. According to manager Peter Bosz, when Hutchinson arrived at Vitesse, he needed to take a lot of painkillers in order to train, and still couldn't manage a full ninety-minute training session.  In addition, Hutchinson wasn't able to train on back-to-back days.

However, after spending five months rehabbing at Vitesse, Hutchinson was able to train, painkiller-free, for ninety minutes every day. In addition, Hutchinson was sent to Vitesse exclusively for rehabilitation and to work on his fitness. Neither Chelsea nor Vitesse expected Hutchinson to contribute to the first team, and Hutchinson's loan deal only ran until January.

Bosz explained that the only goal was to get Hutchinson fit, and they achieved that goal together.  In addition, Bosz appears very happy for Hutchinson on a personal level and thinks the world of him.

Why was Vitesse the best place for Hutchinson to rehab, as opposed to staying at Cobham?  The answer lies with Eduardo Santos, the former head physiotherapist at Vitesse.

Santos, a Brazilian physiotherapist and biomedical engineer, is an expert on knee injuries and worked with Hutchinson one-on-one.  Santos has since left the club to join André Villas-Boas' staff at Zenit Saint Petersburg, and he has been widely praised by his former colleagues at Vitesse. In particular, Peter Bosz and CEO Joost de Wit issued glowing recommendations of Santos' work.

WAGNH spoke with Santos, who explained "[Hutchinson] came to me with a real big problem -- he was trying to play football using a lot of medications. Even with this medication, he was always feeling pain after the effect."

In an effort to help Hutchinson get healthy, Santos decided to completely change Hutchinson's treatment plan and implemented the techniques Santos used when successfully helping players like Alex, Mousa Dembélé, Younès Kaboul, and Sandro come back from their injuries.  Both Sandro and Kaboul admitted to strongly considering retirement because their injuries were so severe, and while neither player is 100% yet, they were both able to play significant minutes for Spurs this season.

Clearly, Hutchinson was in good hands with Santos.

Santos told Hutchinson "he will need to focus on my treatment if he wants to come back playing completely fit." Although Hutchinson was anxious to get back on the pitch as soon as possible, he diligently followed the path Santos laid out for him.

Santos praised Hutchinson's work ethic, calling him a "real professional." Santos also shared that he very much enjoyed working with Hutchinson and is "very glad to see him back in action again."

After Hutchinson completed his rehab at Vitesse, he was loaned to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in February. Of the seventeen league matches Sheffield Wednesday played while he was on loan during the past three months, Hutchinson played in ten, and started in eight.  He missed three games as a result of suspensions and missed four more games due to his chronic knee issues.

For perspective, this most recent three-month timeframe is, by far, the most football Sam Hutchinson has played in quite some time.

The results Santos and Hutchinson achieved together is remarkable and should instantly launch Santos into the number two spot on every Chelsea supporter's list of favourite physiotherapists, right behind Dr. Carneiro (in addition, if Chelsea could somehow pry him away from André Villas-Boas, Santos might even challenge Willian for the number one spot on the list of favourite Brazilians Chelsea has stolen away from its former manager).

Due to a chronic knee injury, Hutchinson was forced to retire in August 2010, just days after his 21st birthday.  He courageously decided to lace up again about a year later, but has faced a number of setbacks resulting from his knee problems.

Hutchinson has been in the Chelsea system since he was seven years old, and both the supporters and the club itself have a demonstrated soft spot for the defender. Chelsea honoured Hutchinson's contract even after he retired, welcomed him with open arms at Cobham and installed him as a mentor to the youth players, and helped him earn his coaching qualifications.  Had Hutchinson not decided to play again, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd be on the coaching staff of one of the youth squads right now.

A highly-touted prospect as a youngster (he represented England at the youth levels, captained the U19 squad, and had just been called up to the U21 side before being seriously injured in 2010), Hutchinson will likely never play another significant minute for the Chelsea first team.  However, he has the full support of the club, and Chelsea will likely loan him to wherever he feels most comfortable next season.

When Hutchinson decides to hang up the boots for good (hopefully not for another fifteen years if that's what he wants), he'll likely have a whistle and a great opportunity waiting for him at Cobham should he want to resume his second career as a coach.