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Which Player Has Done The Best Since Leaving Reading FC?

There's a couple of former Royals flying high in the Premier League at the moment, so Olly takes a look at who's been the most successful since leaving the Madejski Stadium.

There haven't been many success stories from players leaving Reading recently, with last summer's most significant departures being prime examples. Jem Karacan and Alex Pearce have both already been loaned out by their new clubs, whilst Adam Federici has made just five Premier League appearances.

But we all like to watch Match of the Day every Saturday evening and point out "He used to play for Reading!" taking pride in the fact that they were once one of our own. Here's the best of those who have gone on to bigger and better things, whilst you have the chance to vote on who you think has done the best since leaving Berkshire.

I do recognise that there have been a few other success stories in our deeper past like Lawrie Sanchez & Neil Webb but for this poll I'm sticking to the modern or 'Madejski Stadium' era.

In order of departure....

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Ah, Gylfi, my love. How to summarise this man's time at Reading in just a short paragraph? He may have only starred in one full season at the Madejski Stadium, but his presence as an attacking midfielder is one that we are still yet to replace. In 2009/10, the Icelandic international scored 21 goals in 44 games, and scored memorable goals in Reading's run to the FA Cup quarter-finals against Liverpool, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion.

He produced moments of magic that the MadStad had never seen before, and at just 20 years old he scooped the club's Player of the Season award. Inevitably, bigger clubs came sniffing and Sigurdsson moved to Hoffenheim in 2010.

Although his time in Germany wasn't that successful, it was when he returned to England that he began to show signs of real quality once again. After an impressive loan spell at Swansea in which he won a Premier League player of the month award, Tottenham snapped him up, but despite being a regular starter, something never quite clicked at White Hart Lane, with Brian McDermott even trying to bring him back to Reading.

Eventually it was back to South Wales for Gylfi, and after re-announcing himself with a goal at Old Trafford on the opening day of 2014-15 he hasn't looked back. Now 26, the midfielder has become one of the top division's best dead ball specialists, and so far this season has 11 goals, enjoying a particularly hot streak since the turn of the year.

On the international stage, Sigurdsson has won the Icelandic Football Year accolade five times since leaving Berkshire, and helped his country qualify for the European Championships for the first time ever in France this summer, where he's sure to star.

Sigurdsson is the only player on this list to actually come from Reading's academy.

Shane Long

Signed with Kevin Doyle from Cork City in the summer of 2005, Shane Long didn't feature that heavily in the magical season that followed, but would go on to score 54 goals in just over 200 appearances for Reading, with his golden campaign being 2010/11. He had previously played a key role, like Gylfi, in the FA Cup run the year before, also scoring at Anfield as well as in the quarter-final against Aston Villa.

But, in his last campaign at the Madejski Stadium he netted 21 times in 44 Championship appearances as the Royals, winning the player of the season award. Sir John Madjeski remarked the striker was £20 million. Did we get that for him? Of course not. In the summer of 2011, Long signed for West Brom for £6.5 million.

In five Premier League seasons since then, Long has played for the Baggies, Hull City and now Southampton playing fairly regularly and terrorising opposition defences with his pace. Saying that, he has never hot double figures in the league but is currently on nine goals for the Saints so far this season. Last year he won the Goal of the Year accolade on the South Coast, and has featured in the Europa League for both Southampton and Hull.

For the Republic of Ireland he now has over 60 caps, and played for his country at Euro 2012. He has even scored against England at Wembley and last October netted the winning goal against world champions Germany. January saw Long, now 29, linked with a surprise move to Liverpool!

Michail Antonio

Whilst it could be said that Sigurdsson and Long have actually performed the best, Michail Antonio has arguably developed the most since leaving Reading. Few could have imagined that the winger signed from non-league Tooting & Mitcham in 2008 as an 18 year old would go on to Premier League stardom. He certainly showed little sign of his potential in his time at the Madejski Stadium, scoring just one goal in 33 appearances at the club as he went out on loan five times.

When he left Berkshire permanently for Sheffield Wednesday in 2012, it immediately became clear that we had let him go too soon. Despite being injured for part of the campaign, Antonio finished as the Owls' top scorer and in 2014 Nottingham Forest came calling. In his solitary season at the City Ground, the winger started every league game, scoring 14 goals in the Championship as he was named the club's player of the year.

Premier League clubs began sniffing around Antonio, and it was West Ham that took him to the top division for £7 million last summer. After breaking into the Hammers' starting XI in December, the 26 year old hasn't looked back. 11 goals in competitions has made him a fans' favourite at the Boleyn Ground, whilst there are even calls for him to make England's Euro 2016 squad? Surely not....

Other Nominees

To avoid this piece being too long, I'll now give brief mentions to four other players who I think deserve a mention for their success post-Reading. First up, there's Matthew Upson, a loanee in Berkshire in 2002-03, who has gone on to have an established Premier League career, as well as starring in the Europa League and World Cup, scoring against Germany in the latter.

Another loanee, 2009-10's Ryan Bertrand could well star at Euro 2016 this summer after two impressive campaigns at Southampton, being named in the PFA Team of the Season last year. Prior to his time on the South Coast, the left-back also won the Champions League (when he started in the final in 2012) and the Europa League with Chelsea. Now 26, Bertrand has seven England caps and also featured for Team GB at the London Olympics.

Following a theme here, Benik Afobe spent time on loan at Reading in the latter half of our 2011-12 Championship winning campaign, but made just three appearances. Few could have predicted that he would turn into a hugely sought after striker, but after 19 goals in just half a season for MK Dons and 23 for Wolves in one and a half, Bournemouth snapped him up for a club record fee of £10 million. Before injury ruled him out for the campaign, he made a promising start on the South Coast, scoring three goals in six Premier League games.

Finally, a case of wrong player, wrong club and wrong player at Reading: Daniel Carrico, who played just 87 minutes in the Premier League after signing from Sporting Lisbon. However since departing Reading for Sevilla, the centre-back/holding midfield has won the Europa League twice (and could potentially make it a hat-trick this season) and achieved consecutive fifth placed finishes in La Liga. Carrico even earned his first cap for the Portuguese national last year.

Interestingly, no players from 2005-06 featured except for Shane Long - suggesting that squad peaked in that season and the following campaign. There's probably a few from the pre Madjeski Stadium days that I've missed out from this list, so let me know who else you think should have been worthy of a mention in the comments below and vote in the poll.