Why foreign sojourn was the 'best thing that ever happened' to Sheffield Wednesday favourite
Sheffield Wednesday man Sam Hutchinson has described the few months of his life he feels were simultaneously the ‘lowest he’s felt’ in his career and the ‘best thing that ever happened’ to him.
The 31-year-old, who has long been a huge advocate for discussion around mental health since he suffered depression after his injury-enforced retirement at the age of just 21, spoke openly to the Man Marking podcast about his life, career and struggles.
Hutchinson made 133 league appearances for Wednesday across six years in a successful first spell at the club before he was released last summer.
A surprise switch to Cypriot side FC Pafos followed, a move that lasted only a few months before he was brought back to Hillsborough in a move first initiated by Tony Pulis.
“That’s the lowest I’ve ever been to be honest,” Hutchinson said recalling a switch abroad that was ravaged by the isolating nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I never wanted to get out there. With the Covid and everything, I’d left Sheffield Wednesday which I never wanted to do, and there was nothing in England.
“My family came out, they dropped all the school, we looked at schools over there and as the months passed I realised it wasn’t the world I wanted to be living in.
“For two weeks it’s like a holiday destination, but once it went all quiet for my kids and how we wanted to live, it wasn’t right.
“The football wasn’t right, nothing was right out there. I would never do anything for money, that’s not who I am, I play football because I love to play football.”
The Hutchinson family decided a move to Cyprus wasn’t the right thing for their young children and they moves back to the UK.
Hutchinson played only five times in league football for Pafos before he struck a deal to leave and returned to Wednesday, putting in a string of consistent performances as he was unable to arrest a slide that saw them relegated to League One.
But he looks back on the low points on his Cyprus sojourn as an experience that has settled him down both personally and professionally.
Hutchinson is contracted into next season and as it stands looks likely to provide an older head in Wednesday’s attempted recovery and rebuild.
On his family leaving Cyprus, he remember: “Once they were gone I was sat there thinking ‘I might be earning good money here, but what am I doing?’ It meant nothing. The games meant nothing, it didn’t mean anything to me.
“My family, they couldn’t get excited because they didn’t know who anyone was, they couldn’t watch the games or anything. I’d gone. There was a lockdown, noone could fly out and I just felt completely and utterly finished.
“But I used it as a positive and from being that negative it has completely changed me as a person.
“For the first time since before my injury and my retirement I am content with myself and who I am as a footballer and as a person. It’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.”