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Reading FC World Cup Links - Group F

Links from the 80s, 90s, 00s and 2010s in today’s links - an odd journey through Royals history.

Group G France v Korea Republic - World Cup 2006

Germany

To date, the only German to don the blue and white hoops is Uwe Hartenberger, who was a Royal between 1993 and 1995. The striker’s two year spell in Berkshire was the only time he spent outside of his homeland in his entire career, and he scored five goals in 29 games for the club.

Hartenberger moved to Reading through contacts then-manager Mark McGhee had built up whilst playing for Hamburg, and cost around £100,000. He became an instant hit amongst the Elm Park faithful after coming off the bench to score an equaliser against Swansea City on his debut.

Unfortunately for him though, the form of Jimmy Quinn and Stuart Lovell restricted his game time, and he only completed 90 minutes on two occasions for the club before moving back to Germany to join Waldhof Mannheim. In 2015, the Former Players’ Association conducted an interview with Hartenberger, in which he discusses the friendships he made at the club and what is was like to be at Wembley for the 1995 Division One play-off final. You can read it here.

Mexico

Mexico v Jamaica: Final - 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Having qualified for 16 World Cups, Mexico is undoubtedly the most successful nation in CONCACAF - The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. This is emphasised by their record seven Gold Cup wins - the confederation’s regional tournament that takes place every two years.

Their most recent victory came in 2015, when they faced a Jamaica team in the final containing Garath McCleary and Michael Hector, both of Reading at the time, as well as Adrian Mariappa and Jobi McAnuff, two former Royals. The latter of course captained the club to promotion in 2012.

Andres Guardado, Jesus Corona and Oribe Peralta netted in a 3-1 win for Mexico (all three will be at the World Cup this summer), but the four Reading alumni were still part of a record-breaking Reggae Boyz side. It was the country’s first ever major final, whilst they were also the inaugural Caribbean nation to reach the tournament’s showpiece.

Sweden

Before he managed Slough, Woking, Reading, Leeds and then Reading again, Brian McDermott was a bit of a journeyman in his playing days. He represented no less than 11 clubs in his career as a midfielder, starting off at Arsenal, where he is now a scout. In April 1984, the Gunners loaned him out to Swedish side IFK Norrköping and he made a huge impression during his six months in Scandanavia, being voted Sweden’s Player of the Year as the club reached the final of the Allsvenskan play-offs.

Two years later and McDermott was an Oxford United player, but he returned to the home of ABBA and IKEA for another loan spell, signing for newly promoted Djurgardens IF. Sadly he couldn’t have quite the same impact as he had had previously, as the club were relegated straight back to the second tier.

Before coming up against Sven-Göran Eriksson in a meeting between Reading and the Swede’s Leicester City side in 2011, McDermott said: “I’m looking forward to speaking a little bit of Swedish to Sven. My Swedish was good in 1984. It’s not the easiest of languages to understand, though, and you forget it pretty quickly.”

South Korea

“He’ll shoot, he’ll score, he’ll eat your Labrador!” - probably one of my favourite Reading chants ever for the club’s only South Korean player to date, Seol Ki-hyeon.

The midfielder joined the Royals from Wolves in July of 2006 after representing his country at two World Cups (including the one that summer) and becoming the first South Korean footballer to score in the history of the Champions League whilst at Anderlecht.

He made an instant impact at the Madejski Stadium, setting up the club’s first ever Premier League goal as he drilled the ball in for Dave Kitson to net against Middlesbrough, before scoring two magnificent goals himself against Sheffield United and West Ham a few weeks later. But he featured less and less as the season went on, and joined Fulham the following summer, citing a desire for regular football as the reason for his swift departure.

For South Korea, Seol totalled 82 caps and 19 goals before retiring in 2009. He would continue at club level for five more years, representing three different clubs in his homeland.