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Former Reading FC Defender Alan Bennett On 'Whirldwind' Stay In Premier League

Although the Irishman didn't quite make an impact at the Mad Stad, he tells RTE about the huge amount to be learned at the club.

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When Reading signed Alan Bennett from Cork City in 2007, many fans could be forgiven for having never heard of the unknown Irishman, and indeed after two years and a few loan spells he exited the club.

Speaking to RTE, the defender now reveals the rather amusing circumstances around his signing and the difficulties he had breaking into a Royals side at the top of its game.

"It all happened quite quickly. I was young and a bit naive too in some senses," he said. "I remember going out to Bishopstown and Damian was the manager at the time. He asked me to take his two dogs for a walk out the back of the pitch there. One of the dogs took off and I lost him. I don't know where he went.

"I was in the bushes looking for the dog and he came out and was about to tell me that the move had gone through and Reading had paid the money. But he was raging because the dog was missing. We spent about half an hour looking for the dog and we eventually found him. He told me when I found the dog that I had been sold. It could have gone smoother, but I packed my bags and I was gone the next morning."

Now 35 and back at Cork, the centre-back fondly remembers learning the difference between the Irish and English top-flights.

"It was a whirlwind," Bennett remarked. "Reading were at the absolute peak of their powers. They just finished outside of the European places that season. It was a huge learning curve for me and it made me [as a person] a little bit. It made me grow up really quickly.

"I think the biggest difference is you can afford to make mistakes at Turner's Cross or away to Finn Harps or whatever. There is criticism on you but there's not that much spotlight. But when you go to England, if you make a mistake, there is two or three players ready to go into your position where you have left off. That was probably the hardest thing for me."