With PSG not formed until 1970, the team to beat in France’s capital before that point was Racing Club de Paris, and beat them Reading did, in our first ever floodlit game in October 1954. A Royals side including legends such as Ray Reeves, the club’s all-time leading penalty scorer, and Eddie McLaren ran out 3-0 winners in the friendly game watched by 12,789 fans at Elm Park.
Despite only being a Third Division side at the time, Reading’s installation of “the most up-to-date system of floodlighting in this country” (according to chairman James Carter) attracted clubs such as Racing Club de Paris and English First Division outfits. The BBC were also impressed by the technology, and broadcast the second half of the game around Europe.
The Daily Mirror reported that Reading “showed the star-studded French team that old style rugged tackling wins matches”, but the teams were all friends afterwards as they dined together on poached Darne Scotch Salmon, roast quarter of Southdown Lamb and iced gateaux at the French Horn in Sonning Common. Fancy.
A crucial part of the Championship winning squad of 2011/12, Adam Federici spent ten years at Reading, making 245 appearances in between the sticks. Incredibly, for a goalkeeper, he also managed to get on the scoresheet once too, smashing home a 96th minute equaliser against Cardiff on Boxing Day 2008 after coming up for a corner.
Federici would depart in the summer of 2015 having just picked up the Player of the Season award, signing for Premier League bound Bournemouth. He has struggled for game time on the South Coast since though, featuring in just eight top flight games. At international level, the 33-year-old has been capped 16 times by Australia, and was part of the Socceroos’ squad at the 2010 World Cup.
But of course Federici is not the only former Royals hero to hail from down under, with fellow Aussies Stuart ‘Archie’ Lovell and Andy Bernal key figures in Reading teams throughout the 90s.
There are some players who you really wonder why Reading ever signed them. Paolo Hurtado is one of those players.
The winger was brought in on a three-year-deal in the summer of 2015, but never settled in Berkshire, featuring just five times and earning only only start, against Everton in the League Cup. He was shipped out on loan to Portuguese top flight side Vitória Guimarães the following January, and again that summer, before finally joining the club permanently in July 2017.
13 goals and six assists in 30 games in the season just gone shows you that Hurtado is far from a bad player, just that the Madejski Stadium clearly wasn’t the right fit for him. Indeed, the 27-year-old’s impressive form in 2017/18 earned him a call-up to Peru’s World Cup squad, and he’ll be looking to add to his 29 caps and three goals for the South American nation in Russia.
Mikkel Andersen joined Reading in 2007 as a promising 18-year-old goalkeeper, and departed eight years later having done very little with his career other than go out on loan. A lot.
Andersen had temporary spells at no less than seven clubs (including two at Bristol Rovers) before finally being handed his Royals debut in September 2014 against Sheffield Wednesday. He would make four more appearances that season before realising that he would have to move elsewhere for senior football, and joined Danish side FC Midtjylland in June 2015.
Since returning to his homeland, Andersen has impressed greatly and become one of the best goalkeepers in the Superliga. In his time with Midtjylland, he saved a penalty against Manchester United in the Europa League, whilst last summer he joined Lyngby BK.
During his time in Berkshire, Andersen was capped by Denmark at Under 19, Under 20 and Under 21 level, but at 29 years old he is still awaiting that senior team call-up.