In one of the biggest surprises on Deadline Day, Chelsea swooped to sign Reading defender Michael Hector for £4m, beating London rivals Crystal Palace to the centre-back’s signature.
Blues fans may not know too much about the new member of their backline, so here we take an in-depth look at his career so far.
Hector began his youth career at Millwall, but after he was released and had a spell with Thurrock Town, his breakthrough moment came when he played for Barking Abbey in a friendly against Reading reserves.
In attendance of the match that day was Reading director of football, Nicky Hammond. At the time, Hector was actually appearing as an attacking midfielder, but an injury to one of his side’s centre-backs meant he was forced to move back into defence. And he impressed so much that the Royals signed him up on a scholarship in 2009.
A number of loan spells at several non-league clubs followed before the East Ham born player was given his first chance in the Football League with Barnet in 2011.
He quickly became a regular during his temporary spell with the Bees and was named as the club’s young player of the season at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.
Now a name in the Football League, loans at Shrewsbury Town, Aldershot Town and Cheltenham Town followed, and Hector even enjoyed a period with Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership in the 2013-14 season.
It was now time for the tall defender to make his mark with his parent club and he did exactly that in 2014, becoming a regular in the Royals’ defence, playing in 41 Championship matches. He also helped the Berkshire outfit reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they were beaten by Arsenal.
Hector’s fine form for his club was starting to catch the attentions of international managers, and he decided that he wanted to play for his dad’s home nation, Jamaica.
Hector was included in the Caribbean outfit’s squad for the 2015 Copa America, and the centre-back made his debut on June 13th against Uruguay. The defender went on to face Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in his side’s next group match against Argentina, but Jamaica exited following their final fixture against Costa Rica, losing all of their matches 1-0.
It was to be a busy summer for Hector, and the Gold Cup followed just a few weeks later, and this time Jamaica were more successful, finishing as runners-up to Mexico.
The 23-year-old returned to England but struggled to force his way back into the team, although he captained Reading for the first time in their Capital One Cup success at Portsmouth.
Hector has been loaned back to Reading for the season as part of the deal, but Chelsea fans will be looking forward to seeing their new defender in action in the 2016-17 season.