Chelsea fans might not remember the name ‘Sam Hurrell’ all that well.
Amidst an era at Stamford Bridge where the club seemed to be hoovering up trophies under Jose Mourinho, breaking into one of the Premier League’s greatest ever squad wasn’t exactly easy.
So, just imagine how much of an uphill battle it must have been when you signed for the club through a television programme. Are you catching our drift yet?
Football reality shows have a curious history in the United Kingdom and perhaps the most successful came in the form of ‘Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker’.
The programme ran for an impressive three seasons with the Manchester United star at its helm, but it didn’t go as far as other projects in terms of impacting the beautiful game itself.
Remembering ‘Football Icon’
‘Football’s Next Star’, on the other hand, gave players the opportunity to earn themselves a professional contract at Inter Milan by impressing in tasks over the course of 10 episodes.
But the precursor to that lucrative format actually came with Sky One’s ‘Football Icon’, which again offered the chance to win a deal at one of Mourinho’s club, but this time it was Chelsea.
Five-thousand young footballers competed in the five series to try and live out their dreams with talented left-back Sam Hurrell – a boyhood Chelsea fan – eventually coming out on top.
Trying to make the grade at Chelsea
Hurrell was still attending Vyners School at the time of his victory and had won a six-month contract that could set him on the road towards Premier League stardom.
The fact his name isn’t exactly well-known will probably make you realise that wasn’t exactly the case, but what happened to Hurrell after he shook hands with Mourinho?
Well, things worked out better than you might have expected with Hurrell impressing ‘The Special One’ and his youth coaches enough to earn himself a 12-month contract extension.
“Sam has come through a tough process, he deserves to be with Chelsea,” Mourinho explained.
“The academy tells me that he has developed as a player, not just as a defender, but he has adapted to the needs of the academy, too. He is progressing.”
Returning to Chelsea… eventually
Sadly, though, there was to be no further extension with Hurrell being released in 2007 having had his chances of breaking into the first-team dashed by Ashley Cole’s arrival from Arsenal.
Hurrell then dotted around semi-professional football with St Albans City, Welling United, Worthing and Woking, before plying his trade across the pond with the New Orleans Jesters.
Astonishingly, the young full-back even dipped into management at just 24 years old, taking joint control of Hillingdon Borough in the Spartan South Midlands League.
Hurrell, now aged 31, was most recently reported to be Professional Academy Coach at Chelsea, returning to where it all began in 2005.
Most importantly of all, though, the Chelsea fan’s dream endeavour left him with no regrets and he explained in a 2012 interview that did everything in his power to try and make the cut.
“Maybe starting at an earlier age I could have done it, but until then I had just been coached by people’s dads,” Hurrell remarked.
“In the 18 months I had there (Chelsea) the development I made was unbelievable. I think I gave it everything. I used to stay late to do extra work, because I knew I was playing catch-up.”
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