His ascent from the Conference Premier to League One, at the age of 25, is as unique as it serendipitous. After using the Charlton’s ProZone software to aid Hayes and Yeading’s performance analysis, Pritchard volunteered his services to the Addicks at the same time. He was subsequently scouted by then manager Chris Powell and given a trial at the Valley.
“I played in a friendly against West Ham,” Pritchard recalls. “I was 25 and everyone else as 19 or 20. I went up to Chris Powell’s office and hoped he’d offer me something as an analyst. He offered me a one year deal and a year later we got promoted and he offered me another two year contact.”
“It just seemed that a lot of things happened to occur at the right place at the right time.”
Following three seasons with Charlton, Pritchard was let go in 2014.
“That’s when I felt the pressure,” he says. “When nobody knows about you, they have no expectations. That was the real learning curve for me – when people expected you to succeed and you don’t meet those expectations. I knew I was the one that wasn’t performing from my analyst background. Other people had over the years learned coping mechanisms, that’s what helps sustain a career.”
Such mental fortitude is something Pritchard carries in abundance. Whether his 5’7″ frame is too slight or he had ‘nothing other players didn’t have,’ the Zimbabwean born footballer has always had to defy those expectations.
Now in his second season at Leyton Orient, and still earning a professional wage playing football, Pritchard is evidently winning all those battles.
“When you’re winning and confident, it’s amazing. It’s the best job in the world.”
“When it’s not going well, it’s tough. It tests you.”
“Only those who are strong enough to withstand that can forge a long career.”