LATE BLOOMER BRADLEY CAN AN­A­LYSE HIS OWN DIS­PLAYS...

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Ben Croucher

BRADLEY PRITCHARD landed a sur­prise move from Non-League per­for­mance an­a­lyst to pro­fes­sional foot­baller four years ago – and has spo­ken of his de­ter­mi­na­tion to stay in the Pro­Zone as he heads into the League Two sea­son with Ley­ton Ori­ent.

At 29, the Zim­babwe-born midfielder is still rel­a­tively new to the full-time game, but al­ready has plans in mind for life af­ter football hav­ing taken a grad­u­ate diploma in Law while play­ing for Charl­ton Ath­letic.

Pritchard is look­ing to­wards a fu­ture ca­reer in Sports Law, but it was the English and Sports Science de­gree he had al­ready gained at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity that helped land him his big break af­ter spend­ing the 2010-11 sea­son with Hayes & Yead­ing.

Pritchard had used Charl­ton’s Pro­Zone soft­ware to aid his Con­fer­ence club’s per­for­mance anal­y­sis, and he vol­un­teered his ser­vices to the Ad­dicks at the same time.

Then-Val­ley boss Chris Pow­ell sur­prised him at the end of a sea­son in which he net­ted 14 times for Hayes by of­fer­ing him a trial, how­ever.

“I played in a friendly against West Ham,” Pritchard re­calls. “I was 25 and ev­ery­one else was 19 or 20.

“I went up to Chris’ of­fice and hoped he’d of­fer me some­thing as an an­a­lyst. He of­fered me a one-year deal as a player and a year later we got pro­moted, and he of­fered me another two-year con­tact.

“It just seemed that a lot of things hap­pened to oc­cur at the right place at the right time.”

Fol­low­ing three sea­sons with Charl­ton, Pritchard was let go last sum­mer and joined Lon­don ri­vals Ori­ent, who had just flirted with pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship by reach­ing the League One play-off fi­nal.

Things did not go ac­cord­ing to plan, how­ever, with man­ager Rus­sell Slade soon de­part­ing for Cardiff and three other bosses tak­ing charge dur­ing a chaotic sea­son that ended in rel­e­ga­tion.

“That’s when I felt the pres­sure,” he says .“When no­body knows about you, they have no ex­pec­ta­tions. (Com­ing to Ori­ent) was the real learn­ing curve for me – when peo­ple ex­pected you to suc­ceed and you don’t meet those ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I knew I was the one that wasn’t per­form­ing from my an­a­lyst back­ground. Other peo­ple had, over the years, learned cop­ing mech­a­nisms, that’s what helps sus­tain a ca­reer.

“When you’re win­ning and con­fi­dent, it’s amaz­ing. It’s the best job in the world. When it’s not go­ing well, it’s tough.

“You’ve got to have that men­tal courage to keep prov­ing your­self. As long as you pass more tests than you fail, that’s pretty cool.”

The full in­ter­view with Bradley Pritchard is on www.switchthe­p­lay.com

LON­DON CALL­ING: Bradley Pritchard takes time out to ex­plore the cap­i­tal

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