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Feature: Michael Hector’s meteoric rise from Reading to Chelsea



From Bracknell Town to Barnet, Didcot Town to Dundulk, Michael Hector’s football career has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Hector's rise through the English football ladder has been impressive

Hector’s rise through the English football ladder has been impressive

The Jamaican international centre-back left Championship side Reading to join Premier League champions Chelsea on deadline day, in one of the most unexpected moves of the summer window.

Admittedly, Jose Mourinho’s side have started the season poorly, and have looked particularly shaky at the back, but nobody quite expected that it would be Hector signing for the Blues on deadline day – no matter how impressive he was last season.

His rise has been sensational.

Only five years ago did he sign his first professional contract with the Royals, following loan spells at Non-league sides Bracknell Town, Didcot Town, and Havant and Waterlooville.

Even then, an 18-year-old Hector found himself out on loan, although the calibre of sides improved, as he joined League Two Barnet in 2011/12, and League One side Shrewsbury Town for the end of 2012.

After helping Cheltenham Town reach the League Two play-offs in 2013, Hector moved up to Scotland, joining Premier League side Aberdeen on loan until January.

It was during this season in particular that Reading fans realised Hector’s potential.

Big, strong, quick, versatile – the centre-half’s key traits were unearthed during this successful loan spell.

He also illustrated a keen eye for goal, with a stunning 20-yard strike in the Dons’ 4-0 win against Partick Thistle.

He returned to the Royals in the January, and signed a new two-year deal in the summer. He was ready to ‘realise his dream’, and become Reading’s number one centre-half.

And it was a role that he relished in last season.

Although the early signs weren’t that convincing. One game in particular where the young defender looked out of his depth was against Huddersfield Town, a 2-1 home defeat for the Royals back in August 2014.

Nahki Wells, albeit one of the more difficult strikers to defend against in the Championship, gave Hector the run around all night.

The 5ft 7 striker won the majority of headers against the 6ft 4 centre-half. Wells’ turn of pace left Hector, who himself is not slow, chasing thin air throughout the match. He looked poor on the ball, and got very easily frustrated – what defender wouldn’t when the attacker is outplaying you in every department.

There was concern after that performance. Was Hector really ready to make the step up to the Championship?

Yes he was.

Hector improved remarkably during a season in which the Reading defence was particularly leaky. On many occasions, the young Jamaican, who was called up to the senior squad for the first time in February, was the stand-out performer.

This improvement culminated in an outstanding central defensive performance against Arsenal at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

He was sensational against one of the most talented attacking units in English football.

He rarely gave England international Danny Welbeck an edge, using his positional awareness to minimise the slight, and it is only slight, pace advantage that the striker had.

18 minutes from time and Wenger replaced Welbeck, but Hector did as good a job on Olivier Giroud, rising to a completely different challenge, and helping the Royals force the Gunners into extra-time, albeit to no avail.

It was his presence that was so impressive.

He exuded the confidence of an experienced centre-back, a Premier League centre-back, a future captain. He didn’t look like someone experiencing his first full season at Championship level. He outshone the more experienced Alex Pearce sat next to him.

It was a man-of-the-match performance from a centre-back who’s destined for big things.

Yet no-one quite expected those ‘big things’ to happen so soon.

Ironically, Hector lost his place in Steve Clarke’s back four before moving to Stamford Bridge last week, with new signing Paul McShane and the fully fit Anton Ferdinand combining to create a solid centre-back pairing.

Hector has been loaned back to the Madejski for the remainder of the season, but will have to fight to regain his place that he brilliantly nailed down last season.

Reading fans know he has all the attributes to do so again.

It has been a meteoric rise.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Feature: Michael Hector’s meteoric rise from Reading to Chelsea

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