SAM’S STRUG­GLES SHOW DIF­FER­ENT SIDE TO THE GAME

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

ADAM JOHN­SON is a crim­i­nal who abused his po­si­tion and should be pun­ished. He is not, how­ever, an ex­am­ple of foot­ball’s moral degra­da­tion.

In the course of John­son’s trial, we’ve heard plenty of com­men­ta­tors use the Sun­der­land winger’s pur­suit of a 15-year-old girl to ped­dle lazy cliches about ar­ro­gant young foot­ballers.

Too rich, too stupid, too de­tached from real life. Too shel­tered and molly-cod­dled, too con­vinced of their own en­ti­tle­ment.

What non­sense.You’re ba­si­cally say­ing that any­one with too much cash and spare time will in­vari­ably be­come a sex­ual de­viant.

John­son cer­tainly hasn’t helped foot­ball’s bat­tered im­age, but the next time some­one tells you they’re all the same point them in the di­rec­tion of Sam Hutchin­son. Like John­son, the Sh­effield Wed­nes­day mid­fielder is paid a hand­some salary to kick a ball about ev­ery Satur­day.

Like John­son, he knocks off at 2 o’clock in the af­ter­noon.

But that is the only sim­i­lar­ity. Ear­lier this month, the 26-yearold gave an in­ter­view in which he spoke can­didly about his bat­tle with de­pres­sion – not to garner sym­pa­thy but to reas- sure those suf­fer­ing in si­lence. “I don’t think enough is done,” said the for­mer Chelsea trainee, who checked into The Pri­ory af­ter three years of in­jury hell threat­ened to end his ca­reer.

“There are cam­paigns to deal with de­pres­sion af­ter foot­ball, but it isn’t enough. It takes play­ers and peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced it to speak about it and for it to get solved.”

Hutchin­son’s strug­gles have given him a re­fresh­ing per­spec­tive. For him, ev­ery game is pre­cious. Ev­ery tackle could be his last.Talk to him for five min­utes and you’ll learn that fam­ily, health and the sim­ple joy of play­ing foot­ball are far more im­por­tant that money and fame.

Does that make mean all foot­ballers are saints? Of course not. But it does demon­strate that the per­ver­sion of one man doesn’t make them all demons ei­ther.

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