Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson hopes his return to former club Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday helps him draw a line under his darkest hour.
Hutchinson appeared destined for a golden future in boyhood club Chelsea’s academy until a chronic knee injury forced him to retire in 2010 aged just 21.
He relaunched his career at Chelsea the following season after a knee graft and had loan spells at Nottingham Forest, Vitesse Arnhem and Wednesday before signing permanently for the latter in 2014.
Now 29, Hutchinson spoke of his slide into deep depression and revealed his experiences had helped him deal with his latest setback, having been jettisoned this season by former Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay.
“I think it will be like a closure,” said Hutchinson, back in favour under Wednesday’s interim manager Steve Agnew and expected to start in the fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge.
“Then it’s done. No more injuries, touch wood. It will be a celebration. Fingers crossed we can win.”
Hutchinson sought help at the Priory for mental health issues after being forced to quit at Chelsea.
“I didn’t speak to my mum and dad for a year-and-a-half, two years,” he said. “Literally, it was just me and my missus (Jennifer).
“I used to record Homes Under the Hammer, wake up at like two o’clock and sit watching it under a blanket.
“She’d come in from work and be like, ‘What are you doing with your life? You need to start playing football again.’
“I was severely depressed. I had some bad thoughts and everything like people in that situation go through.
“But if you want to help yourself, and you know you’re in that state, it’s only you that can get out of it.
“Now I’m mentally so much stronger for it. I’m in a good place.”
Hutchinson changed his running gait with the help of Olympic 200m silver medallist Darren Campbell and feels he can continue playing until he is 38.
He admitted he still relapses into depression, but now has the tools to deal with it.
“My three kids are my saviour,” he said. “You look at the joy on their faces when you walk in and that’s all I live for.
“When you’re like that and you’re in that kind of state that I was, you’d look to blame anyone apart from yourself. I didn’t have anyone else to blame, so I blamed Chelsea.
“But honestly they were fantastic with me, they looked after me so much. I was part of Chelsea from the age of seven so I was part of the furniture.
“They brought me up as a kid, and they made me who I am today as a player, as a person, and a man. I just felt at home there.”
Hutchinson started in Wednesday’s first three Sky Bet Championship games under Luhukay this season before being dropped and did not appear again until the Dutchman was sacked last month.
Luhukay cited injury as the reason, but Hutchinson, who has appeared in seven of Agnew’s eight games in charge, insisted he was fit.
“That was tough,” he added. “Because when I retired through injury, I suffered with mental health issues. I was depressed and had to go to the Priory for a long time.
“So to have someone coming out and saying stuff about you that’s not true, that’s quite difficult, because people already have a perception of me that I’m always injured.
“Regardless if I am or not, I wasn’t at that time. Honestly, it’s his choice. I respect his choice.
“You live and die by your decisions and unfortunately his decisions didn’t work for him at Sheffield Wednesday. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.”
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