He may not be the flashiest of players, but Chris Gunter more than deserves his place in Reading’s team of the decade. In total, 47.8% of you picked him for the right-back spot in the side, ahead of Andy Yiadom (40.2%) and Andy Griffin (12.4%).
Throughout a turbulent, unstable period in the club’s history, Gunter has set an example with his loyalty and commitment, racking up almost 300 appearances for the Royals’ first team. That means he’s spent the vast majority of his career at the Madejski Stadium, having only played 155 times for Nottingham Forest, 32 for Cardiff City and 16 for Tottenham Hotspur.
Reading was a very different club when he joined seven years ago, bought from Forest in the summer of 2012 as the Royals looked to upgrade their squad for a Premier League campaign.
Although he only played 20 times that season, he went on to become a regular after relegation to the Championship. Over the next five campaigns he racked up 44, 38, 44, 46 and 46 appearances respectively - consistently trusted as a dependable member of the first team by subsequent managers regardless of the club’s overall decline.
Despite mostly losing his place in the first team over the last two seasons to Andy Yiadom, who came second to Gunter, the Welshman has remained a valuable asset. He filled in where necessary in 2018/19 and, after being temporarily banished from the first team by Gomes, is back in contention under Bowen.
Gunter may not be a stand-out star in the same way as most others in Reading’s team of the decade, but the extent to which he’s been valued and relied on by numerous managers speaks for itself.
Memorable moment: the entire 2016/17 season
As a self-described “boring, sensible sort of guy”, finding stand-out memories for Chris Gunter is trickier than it is for most other players. Granted, he’s scored a few goals for Reading down the years, such as against Peterborough United and Colchester United in the cup, and against former club Nottingham Forest in the league. But a few goals don’t really demonstrate his true value.
Instead, the 2016/17 campaign, in which Gunter was a machine for Reading all season, showed him at his best. The Welshman played in every one of the Royals’ league games and playoff matches, and would have appeared for every minute were it not for missing the final nine minutes of a 1-1 draw with Derby County. Few others have that level of stamina, and that level of consistency, let alone having played 90 minutes six times in Euro 2016.
By the time Reading’s 2016/17 season eventually came to an end at Wembley, Gunter had completed a monster campaign. It was heartbreaking for it to end the way it did, and the full-back slumped against the goalpost in deep thought after the shoot-out loss just about summed that up.