11 years ago, a 21 year old Irishman arrived at Reading Football Club for under £100,000 and no one quite knew what to expect. But fans would soon be chanting the name of Kevin Doyle as he played a key role in the club's historic 2005-06 season, scoring 18 league goals on the way to winning the Championship title.
He would stay at the Madejski Stadium until 2009 when he moved to Wolves for £6.5 million, continuing to star in the Premier League. Doyle has also plied his trade at Crystal Palace and QPR before moving to the USA, where he currently plays for Colorado Rapids.
Last week he took time out of his busy schedule in the States to talk to The Tilehurst End, and we've picked the best bits from the interview below. The full interview will be on this week's podcast, so look out for that...
On how the move to Reading came about...
It was a long time ago now! I remember Brian McDermott came to watch me a few times and gave positive reports of me. I was playing a lot for the Ireland U21s and doing well so they were interested and Steve Coppell came to see me twice I think. So they did their homework!
It was nice that Steve Coppell came to see me so he knew how I played if I did sign. I had a release clause at Cork City, and they matched that so it was reasonably straight forward I suppose.
Was there other teams in for me? Possibly Burnley and Stoke at the time. But I think they came in right at the end when Reading had had a bid accepted, so thought well if Reading are trying to sign him maybe we should too! But Reading had done all the groundwork, and no one told me if their [Burnley and Stoke] managers had come to see me so I think they just nicked Reading’s homework and came in at the same time!
On his hopes ahead of the 2005-06 season...
I was just hoping to maybe make a handful of starts, but I didn’t really expect to be in the team at all! I hoped I could slowly bed myself, get used to my surroundings and living in a different country before after five or six months begin making some starts. So might expectations weren’t massively high. I thought I could get into team as I believed in myself but I didn’t expect it to be so soon.
On the best player he played with at the club...
In the 05-06 season, everyone basically had the season of their lives, so to pick one is difficult. The most sort of naturally skilled player who surprised you because his body didn’t look like he could do it was Glenn Little. In training he could do anything. He struggled to stay fit in the long run, but that season he was just fit all the time.
But just for the surprise factor – if you looked at him you wouldn’t have thought he was a soccer player or an athlete or that he could do what he did. His ability, his skill and his delivery were incredible, and he set me up so many goals did Glenn Little.
As did Bobby Convey, Hunty [Stephen Hunt], and Nicky Shorey from left-back set up a good amount too. As I said everyone played brilliantly that season, Siddy [Steve Sidwell] and [James] Harper in the middle. But yeah, Glenn Little because of the surprise factor, his height and everything. He wasn’t quick but he still used to beat defenders and cause them problems. He was a funny fella as well, good for our group because he was a non-stop joker.
Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to speak to us, and remember to download The Tilehurst Endcast to listen to the full interview!