Kochi tasker a Chelsea mastermind

Wellness instructor Vinay Menon has helped big guns including Drogba and Terry during his stay at Stamford Bridge as mental strategist

Published: 16th November 2017 03:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2017 08:19 AM   |  A+A-

Vinay Menon with Chelsea great John Terry (top) and Cesar Azpilicueta | INSTAGRAM

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Roman Abramovich, Jose Mourinho, Didier Drogba and Vinay Menon. What’s common among the four? Fans of Chelsea FC and football in general would say that the first three worked together for the Blues. Abramovich still owns the club, while Drogba and Mourinho have parted ways. So, who is the fourth person?

Vinay is a wellness consultant and mind strategist who works with Chelsea’s first team. He helps players with mental recovery. For any top club, such a post is vital. Months after winning the EPL title in 2014-15, Chelsea suffered a huge dip in form, forcing authorities to call it quits with Jose Mourinho. Such episodes can affect confidence and that’s where Vinay comes in to play.

Vinay’s work with the players and coaching staff differs from day to day. Every result will have a different impact on players and mental stability is key in football at the highest level. “Sometimes we do yoga. Sometimes, I observe the players and talk to them for a long time. My work doesn’t have a regular pattern. I help them remain calm and it doesn’t matter how we do it or what we do,” Vinay told Express from London.

The man from Kochi was not crazy about football. But he was into sports as a judo player. After a physical education degree from Calicut University, he did MPhil in sports psychology. When the idea of doctorate on personality development of street children failed to take off for the want of a guide, he decided to do something in yoga. Six months after completing a PG diploma course, he joined the faculty of Centre for Yoga Studies at Pondicherry University.

Life goes uphill

From Pondicherry, his journey went uphill. A resort in the Himalayas was looking for a spa and wellness specialist and accepting the offer changed Vinay’s life. “I went to Rishikesh and had a feeling that I won’t get a better place to work.” Then something else happened. “There was a girl called Flommy Menon who was joining the same day.

We had to sign papers, some of which needed signature of a close relative or spouse. Flommy’s dad had already left the place. So I signed some of her documents. Flommy and I got married and she is now the deputy manager of the health club at Chelsea FC,” he said. After some enjoyable time in the mountains, Vinay got an offer from the Jumeirah group of hotels in Dubai. “I was not convinced to leave such a beautiful place for the hot deserts. My wife and I thought a lot before joining them in 2004.”

Vinay started by organising small sessions for 25 people, which became a hit. He started a wellness event called Full Moon Yoga, where people discuss health, relax and have a good time. In the next four years his clientele rose to around 200, many of them rich and famous. “I can’t reveal names because of job policy. One of my clients spoke of better opportunities in Europe. I wasn’t planning to shift. My son, Abhay, was just born. In 2008, she came back and said people in London still wanted me. Flommy suggested I should give it a shot. “

A Roman welcome

It was May 11, 2008. Chelsea were hosting Bolton with faint hopes of a third title in four years. Vinay was shown around London and reached the Bridge at 3PM. He had no clue he was coming to Chelsea. “After the game, I was still confused. I didn’t know who I was going to meet. And all of a sudden, Roman welcomed me and treated me in a very kind way. He offered the best possible facilities and luxury. It was an easy decision.”

For two years, Vinay was personal health consultant for Abramovich and travelled with the Russian tycoon. But he was not very fond of it, as he had to stay away from family. “I told him I can’t keep doing this. I thought he would ask me to leave. But he offered a position for me and my wife at the club,” Vinay said.

Since then, he became a true Blue. Though he never fancied football, he started liking it. From Roberto Di Matteo’s Champions League winning season to Antonio Conte’s revival last year, he has been through it all and worked with the best. “Didier and John (Terry) were very close. I can’t share much details, it’s part of my job. I have a personal relationship with many stars.”

There are millions dreaming to get into the Premier League. While there are very few Asians in such a high-profile club in such a role, Vinay has proved anything is possible. He is the one playing the real mind games at Chelsea.

Name: Vinay Menon
Age: 43
Designation: Wellness Consultant at Chelsea FC.
Had no interest in football prior to joining the Blues.
Represented Kerala in judo & won state-level medals.
Hoping to set up a Chelsea football academy in India and is on the lookout for sponsors for the same.
Will be coming to Kochi in December and is also planning to start a grassroots programme for local kids.



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