While Reading have largely started games this season with a centre-back trio, our Team of the Decade will see a more traditional two at the heart of the defence, and the first half of that pairing is current club captain Liam Moore. Whilst the battle to partner him was a much closer result (find out tomorrow who won it), the 26-year-old dominated our poll as he received 74.5% of the vote.
Having come through the academy at boyhood club Leicester City, Moore made the difficult decision to leave the King Power Stadium permanently in the summer of 2016 after watching from the sidelines as the Foxes won a miraculous Premier League title. His transfer to Reading wasn’t straightforward though, and was only completed after a few weeks of speculation and negotiation.
Moore became an instant hit alongside Paul McShane in Jaap Stam’s defence, proving to be a canny signing and virtual ever-present as Reading surprised everyone to finish third in the Championship and reach the play-off final. He would miss a penalty against Huddersfield at Wembley, but it was testament to his character that he stepped up in the first place.
The two and half years since haven’t quite gone to plan for Reading, as the Royals have seen a high turnover of players and four different permanent managers, but Moore has remained a constant and been one of the club’s best players in that time. He played all 46 games of the 2017-18 campaign and won the Player of the Season award, having also finished in the top three of the vote the previous season.
It was unsurprising that Moore caught the attention of Premier League clubs and was subject to intense transfer speculation in the summer of 2018 as Brighton and Hove Albion reportedly placed a number of bids for him. No Reading fan would have begrudged the centre-back a move to the Premier League, and he did indeed put in a transfer request before being talked around by the owners’ ambitions for the club’s future.
His commitment to the cause was then affirmed as he signed a new contract until 2023, which if he fulfils should make him a true Reading icon. Moore already has 159 appearances for the club and counting (alongside five goals), and has been one of the most popular players in the last few years.
Memorable moment: Kicking the first ball at Bearwood as the new club captain
When Paul McShane departed Berkshire in the summer, Moore was the stand-out candidate to replace the Irishman as Royals captain. He had worn the armband in McShane’s absence in the previous 18 months, and his first three seasons at the club had shown him as a natural leader.
Put simply, Moore is a perfect ambassador for Reading. Even when he first joined aged 23, it was clear he understood the ethos of the club and throughout his time as a Royal he has shown nothing but passion, commitment and determination in the blue and white hoops. Never afraid to put his body on the line or make a last-ditch tackle, Moore has even played with a dislocated shoulder - the man is desperate to help the team win. He’s also relatively open on social media with supporters, and has been engaging and honest in his two appearances on the Elm Park Royals podcast.
The announcement of his captainship coincided with the opening of Bearwood, Reading’s new training ground, and Moore kicked the first ball on the turf to begin what is hopefully an exciting few years for the club.