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The Tilehurst End Interview: Ryan Edwards

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This summer The Tilehurst End is aiming to bring you a set of interviews with familiar faces from Reading FC and today we kick things off by chatting with recently-released winger Ryan Edwards, who joined the Royals in 2011.

TTE: Heading for pastures new, you can look back on your time at Reading from start to finish; what is your best memory from your time at the club?

Since joining the club back in 2011 it has been a wonderful journey. It was great for me coming over as a 17-year-old to sign a four year professional contract. Up there with joining a big club like Reading FC, it would have to be making my début last season away to Wigan in the Championship, that was my best memory with Reading.

Looking ahead to your post-Royals career, how do you go about seeking a new club and where do you see yourself in 12 months time?

I'm heading into the unknown at the moment, but I have some good people in the background working hard to find me a new club that will give me the best opportunity to play competitive games week in, week out. In 12 months time, I see myself having sorted out my immediate club future while representing Australia u23s at the next Olympics in Brazil. As of January next year we begin the qualification process for the Olympics, and I believe we have a strong chance qualifying.


You've been played under the likes of Nigel Adkins and Steve Clarke, what manager has had the biggest impact on your career so far?

I have learnt a great deal from both managers. Even though I was rarely involved under Clarke, we were more focused on a solid defensive structure and being compact tactically which was very good insight into that part of the game.

With Adkins and his backroom staff such as [Andy] Crosby and [Dean] Wilkins, I felt they had the biggest impact on me. They gave me the chance that us younger players work towards, namely Adkins gave me my professional debut with Reading. I worked closely with the three coaches, especially Dean - they always provided constructive feedback that helped me improve my game.

Do you think you got a fair chance at Reading?

Reading has a fantastic academy and they helped me develop my game in the first couple of years and then allowing me to experience competitive first team football by letting me go out on loan. Coming back from loan, I worked very hard to try get in the first team and that paid off when Adkins showed his faith in me by playing me for the run of games that I had. Once Clarke came in, the club were in a position where we were fighting to stay in the division, so, the manager brought in his own players and stuck with the established professionals.

With new ownership but a poor finish to 2014/15, where do you think the future of Reading FC lies and how do they get there?

Reading FC has always been a club challenging for the title in the Championship, and in turn getting promoted to the Premier League. Everyone knows that the club had to sort out its financial issues in order for it to be in a stable position before it could move forward. The club produces good players through its academy, and has fantastic backroom staff and a great manager which I am sure will help them get promoted to the Premier League - it is just a matter of time.

You've always come across well to the fans, who think very highly of you here as a person, so do you think footballers' overall-negative reputation is justified?

To some degree, there is a negative association with being a footballer. However, the actions of some individuals shouldn't tarnish the reputation of an entire sporting group as a whole. We're all role models to the younger children, therefore it is vital that you set a good example both on and off the field. When you're in the public eye, almost everything you do is scrutinised, although some players may get caught up in unfortunate circumstances, everyone must remember that footballers are also human. I've been fortunate to meet some of my best friends through football and they're fantastic people.

How did you adapt from moving countries, indeed you came over with your brother, Cameron? With that in mind, have you ever visited the popular Australian-themed sports bar 'Walkabout'?

I left home at 16 and moved to Canberra to join the Australian Institute of Sport - that experience helped me a great deal when I moved abroad, and of course it helped having my older brother Cameron move to the UK with me. I definitely owe it to my parents that I have been able to cope so well, they've taught me everything from cooking, cleaning, finances and managing expenses. I think if you come to the UK as an Australian, you have to go check out the Walkabout. I don't go to many sports bars but it's quite cool having a Walkabout in Reading.


Finally, who do you idolize and play as on video games such as Fifa or Football Manager? Do you ever play as yourself?

I play alot of Football Manager and always like an underdog status and try to bring the club up. I idolize Tim Cahill so on Fifa I attempt to score headers like he does, and it usually works too! Whenever I start a new manager mode or football manager game, I have to admit the first thing I do is try sign myself! It's quite exciting having yourself in a video game, it's good fun and a great way to pass the time.

Many thanks to Ryan for agreeing to take part, he really is a top all-round bloke and we wish him the very best for the future. You can follow him on Twitter @redwards_17