Chelsea have announced that promising defender Sam Hutchinson has been forced to retire from professional football at the age of just 21.
Hutchinson emerged from the Chelsea academy and made four senior appearances for the club, but after suffering a recurrence of persistent knee injury he has been advised to end his career as a player.
A club statement read: "Sam Hutchinson has announced his retirement as a professional footballer. Unfortunately the 21-year-old defender suffered a reoccurrence of the knee injury that affected his past three seasons and it is has been decided he will not recover sufficiently for the physical demands of a professional career.
"Hutchinson will continue to be supported by Chelsea Football Club and will work in our academy while also studying sports science at university. He will later pursue coaching qualifications."
A former captain of the club's reserve side who made his senior debut as a substitute in a Premier League game against Everton in May 2007, Hutchinson first suffered the knee injury in the 2007-08 season.
Last season he made two further substitute appearances in the Premier League and made his first and only start for the club in a 1-0 victory over QPR in the Carling Cup.