Vinay Menon - the Indian presence at Chelsea: Biography, Career and Family
Vinay Menon - the Indian presence at Chelsea: Biography, Career and Family

Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 to win the UEFA Champions League 2020/21 and become the champions of Europe on Saturday night.

Other than the team's big win, the Chelsea supporters and football lovers in India have one more thing to be proud of. The European champions have an Indian presence at their club.

The person in the limelight now is a Malayali named Vinay Menon, who is a Wellness Consultant at the club since 2009.

Vinay Menon at Chelsea: Biography, Family and Edication

Vinay Menon is the grandson of an experienced Yoga guru from Kerala who completed a physical education degree from Calicut University before moving on to achieving big things abroad.

He then took an M.Phil in sports psychology and joined for Yoga Studies at the Pondicherry University.

The grandson of a Yoga guru from Kerala, he runs an Adhyatma Vidhya programme, which helps players focus on themselves and develop mental strength. The strength of such a programme is probably realised most when the team registers a come-from-behind win at Stamford Bridge.

Armed with an MPhil in Sports Psychology and a degree in physical education from Calicut University, Menon has been really creative in his approach at the London club. By developing a programme called ARFA -- which stands for Awareness, Recovery, Focus, Achievement -- he aims to channelise his subject’s negativity into something constructive and positive.

After studying in Pondicherry, Menon joined a spa in Rishikesh as a wellness expert. After spending some time there, he joined 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,” he had told New Indian Express.

Menon and his wife Flommy, who is currently deputy manager at the Chelsea health club, had settled in well in Dubai, but then again, greener pastures came calling. “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,” he said.

Vinay Menon: Career, Job

He worked at a resort in the Himalayas and hotels in Dubai before getting an offer to become the personal health consultant for Russian business tycoon Roman Abramovich, who is also the billionaire owner of Premier League club Chelsea.

Vinay Menon - the Indian at Chelsea: Biography, Career and Family
Indian Vinay Menon at Chelsea

Later, Abramovich appointed Vinay as the club's wellness consultant and has been with the Blues since 2008, working with several high-profile stars like Didier Drogba and John Terry. Menon, an expert in Judo and Yoga, is Chelsea’s Wellness Consultant, and has been with the Blues since 2008.

Interestingly, Vinay was not into football until he joined the Blues. He has represented Kerala in judo and was a state-level player.

In a sport like football that bears heavy on a player’s mental faculties, with stuff like racism and harsh fan criticism never calling it a day, having a cool head on shoulders comes as a blessing in disguise. Menon has used his ‘mental strategies’ to help players, including veterans Didier Drogba and John Terry, work in the right direction.

The first couple of years were hectic, as he had to travel around the world with Abramovich as his personal health consultant. But then, he was given a role with the first team and he hasn't had to look back since. Today, he has worked with almost all the big names who have been at the club in the last 12-13 years including the likes of John Terry, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard as well as managers like Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and so on.

Menon’s job starts when all else fails.

Vinay Menon - the Indian presence at Chelsea: Biography, Career and Family

“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,” Menon had told New Indian Express.

Since Menon’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, the Blues have won two Champions League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and three Premier League titles.

Vinay, who was part of the team that lifted the Champions League trophy in 2012, has witnessed a historic victory once again as Thomas Tuchel's team repeated the feat in Porto this weekend.

What is the secret behind Chelsea's Champions League victory this term?

The answer to that may involve a lot of footballing arguments, analyses and eventually, judgements, but at the core of it all, the impact that Menon and his methods of alleviating stress have had on Chelsea's players is an undeniable factor in their rise to the top of Europe, that too for a significant number of years.

Menon sessions on 'Adhyatma Vidya' or the science of the self, have become an integral part of the players' behind-the-scenes routine. He has also developed a programme called ARFA - Awareness, Recovery, Focus and Achievement, which helps channelize his subjects' negative thoughts and worries through a positive outlet. In the hyper-competitive world of European football, that makes a world of difference for a player who might be struggling for form or consistency.

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