SAM’S STRUGGLES SHOW DIFFERENT SIDE TO THE GAME
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.