LATE BLOOMER BRADLEY CAN ANALYSE HIS OWN DISPLAYS...
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