- Position: Central midfielder
- Nationality: Icelandic
- Total Reading FC appearances: 156
- Total Reading FC goals: 10
Brynjar Gunnarsson, a committed yet versatile midfielder, was a real fans’ favourite at Reading during his eight years at the club. Having started his career in Scandinavia, taking in the sights of Iceland, Norway and Sweden in his early years, ‘Bryn’ eventually ended up at Stoke City in 1999. After spells at Nottingham Forest and Watford, he joined Steve Coppell’s Reading in the summer of 2005 - just in time to score four goals in 34 appearances as the Royals stormed to the Championship title.
I almost picked his double in a classic match against Sheffield United in October 2005 - the same game as when Paddy Kenny infamously handled outside the area, only to be awarded a yellow card. Instead, I’ve gone for just the one goal, coming at Old Trafford in February 2007.
Having eased past Burnley and Birmingham City in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup respectively, Reading were drawn away at eventual title winners Manchester United. The Royals had plenty of reasons to be positive going into the match - a run of four straight wins had them in sixth after all.
However, they were down 1-0 on 45 minutes after Michael Carrick’s opener, and needing an equaliser. 22 minutes later though, this happened:
On a personal note, that game was very special for me - it was the first time I’d ever seen a Reading game on TV (we didn’t have Sky Sports when I were a lad). So, to see the Royals defy the odds against one of the best teams in the world was amazing - and to do it with such a beautiful header - was special indeed.
The committed defending we saw in that first leg would ultimately go amiss in six bizarre minutes in the replay at the Mad Stad - Gabriel Heinze, Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shredding Reading in rapid time. Although Dave Kitson and Leroy Lita replied, it wasn’t enough to pull off an unlikely comeback.
It didn’t take anything away from that rocket of a header though.