Fulham recently announced the signing of Michael Hector from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. Brilliant, but what will he offer Scott Parker’s fold and, ultimately, who is he? Cam Ramsey plates up a little insight to quell those lingering curiosities.
Hector will be eligible for selection from January, when he joins the Whites officially, although he’s currently being put through his paces at Motspur Park. The 27-year-old will represent the club until at least 2022, and even then, there’s also an option to extend his stay by the river by a further year if necessary.
By all accounts, Sheffield Wednesday fans were devastated that he didn’t return to Hillsborough. Hector was an endeared character in South Yorkshire, having spent the 2018-19 campaign on loan at the Owls, a temporary spell where the strapping centre-half played 39 times in all competitions, scoring two goals in the process.
The defender was subsequently dubbed Wednesday’s Player of the Season, reinforcing his regard as a reliable, trusted component at Championship level. He’s not your everyday, run of the mill bench warmer, that’s for sure.
A fully-fledged Jamaica international, Hector has genuine pedigree. Earning 30 caps for his nation since his debut in 2015, the commanding defender’s flown the flag for the Reggae Boyz at the Copa America and in the 2015 Gold Cup Final, a historic affair that Jamaica unfortunately lost 3-1 to Mexico.
Beginning his career at Reading, Hector – until now – hadn’t been able to settle at one club alone. Before Chelsea purchased him from the Royals in 2015, Hector had been shipped out to a range of differing destinations, including Havant and Waterlooville FC, Bracknell Town, Horsham FC, Aberdeen, the list is endless.
The trend continued at Stamford Bridge, too. Slated for their infamous loan policy, the Blues leased him back to the Royals immediately and then, after a prosperous return the Madejski, the dispensable defender embarked on a season-long switch to Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016, a move that comprised an outing in the DFB-Pokal Final against Borussia Dortmund.
Further temporary spells at Hull City and Wednesday, of course, followed his stretch in the Bundesliga, compounding a disrupted, neglected career. Remaining in SW6 for the foreseeable future, though, Hector finally has an opportunity to bed himself into blueprints indefinitely and that will aid our long-term projections.
Hector’s been drafted in to shake up Parker’s selection process. Promotion is the objective and if he’s in the mix, with a rejuvenated sense of worth, our gaffer will have a positive matchday conundrum on his hands. Dislodging either Alfie Mawson or, most likely, Tim Ream will be his ambition and I’m all for it. Competition breeds effective results, and if there’s one area that needs patching up, it’s our creaky back four.
Able footed, confident, aerially assertive, Hector embodies all that a defender in England’s second-tier should be. Like Mawson and Ream, the London-born enforcer will dispense possession attentively and will charge out of his department determinedly. Beneficially, he’ll inject our spine with indomitable power, an aptitude that’s warranted reward and recognition.
Is Hector held within the same bracket as Aden Flint, Sean Morrison and Pontus Jansson amongst others? Not yet, perhaps, but with the promise of routine and continuity in the second-half of the campaign in the offing, who’s to say that he can’t establish himself as a true hardened stickler in this division?
He won’t walk straight into the starting XI, but once he’s adapted to Parker’s regime, I’ve no doubt that Hector will become a fundamental member of the Whites’ promotion-chasing class of 2019-20 and beyond. Undervalued at the dog track, Hector’s new home is on the banks of the Thames with London’s Originals, a place of serenity, tranquillity and glorious black and white splendour.