Chelsea defender Michael Hector admits he was overawed during the opening training session of his career at Stamford Bridge. The 23-year-old has taken part in first team activities for the first time since securing his move to west London after cutting short his loan deal at Reading.
Hector agreed a move to the Blues on the final day of the summer transfer window, and was loaned back to Championship side Reading for the remainder of the campaign. With two games of the season remaining, Hector was allowed to move to west London ahead of schedule to help settle in before the new term.
A boyhood Chelsea fan, Hector plumbed the depths of non-league football with Bracknell Town, Oxford City and Horsham before becoming a regular fixture with the Royals. Such a humble start to his career ensured Hector was somewhat unprepared for the prospect of working alongside players who he regarded as heroes.
"The first day I was a bit taken aback having watched these players as a supporter but then I settled and have been training normally," he told the official Chelsea website. "The manager was really good in helping me and talking to me and the coaches have been really helpful as well."
Playing 30 times in the second tier for Brian McDermott's side last term, Hector began the season at the heart of the defence before going on to occupy a midfield role. Though incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is expected to initially overlooked the Jamaica international, Hector insists he is happy to fill either position for his new club.
"When I was growing up I was a midfielder and I do enjoy playing midfield, trying to score goals, but teams want to play out from the back and me dropping back to centre-back helped the team to do that and so that was the key when I signed from Reading, for me to try to do that so they can play out from the back," he added. "That is the modern day centre-back, they have to be okay on the ball. I have an open mind about my position."
Having been one of 33 players on loan from Chelsea last season, Hector is destined for another campaign away from his parent club. A change to the rules banning emergency loans in the Football League means Premier League clubs will have to make decisive decisions in the summer over which players will be allowed to leave on temporary deals, and who will be retained to compete for a first team place.