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Reading’s Other Academy Graduates: International

We detail the ‘forgotten’ members of the Royals family with those from abroad who’ve past through our doors

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Brechin City v Dundee - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

You’ve read up on the Reading academy products who never appeared for the Royals but now ply their trade in the Premier League and lower-tiers of English football. Now check out those set up overseas.

While we can’t promise to have covered every single former member of the club in this overview, what we have found is the remarkable spread of ex-players in all corners of the globe. It’s a fairly lengthy final instalment, so let’s get cracking.


Australia

After being released from Reading’s academy in 2013, Cameron Edwards trialled with the Nike Football Academy before joining Melbourne City then Perth Glory. A brief spell in Malaysia followed before returning as a semi-pro to his first academy team, Cockburn City in the Australian National Premier League Western in 2016.

Canadian midfielder Ethan Gage, at one point the captain of his country’s under-20 side, now plays for South Melbourne FC in the Australian second tier. After leaving Reading in 2012 he went to Sweden, turning out for Nyköpings BIS and Bærum SK, before heading down under with Bentleigh Greens SC last year.

Belgium

Belgian under-18 international Ibrahim Kargbo Jr, son of retired Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo, departed Reading’s academy in the summer of 2016. That was followed by two years with Crystal Palace’s academy before joining Xiu Li Hawken’s Belgian club KSV Roeselare last summer.

Bosnia

The Bosnian Messi, Seid Behram, has ultimately returned to Velež Mostar in Bosnia where he started his career. The then-17-year-old former Everton trialist had signed a three-year deal with Reading in January 2016 before moving to Lille in May of the same year.

Reading had intended on loaning Behram out, but instead the lure of a permanent move to the French giants was too much. After disappearing off the radar, he was released by Lille before appearing at RFCU Luxembourg the following January.

In his first season in Luxembourg he managed to play five times and sit on the bench a further six. After only appearing in the squad once the next season, he moved again - this time back to Mostar, the first club at which the now 20-year-old has managed to nail down a regular spot.

Bulgaria

Radoslav Vasilev spent three years in Reading’s academy between 2007 and 2010 before moving back to his homeland with Slavia Sofia. Since then, he’s appeared for Septemvri Sofia (Bulgaria) and Alki Oroklini (Cyprus), but is now plying his trade with Cherno More (Bulgaria).

He’s even scored on the international stage, netting in a 1-0 win over Norway in the UEFA Nations League last November. Overall, he has six caps for Bulgaria.

Germany

Ji Dong-Won was a triallist for Reading in the Steve Coppell days, and sort of counts as an academy graduate. He initially returned to South Korea with Chunnam Dragons, then went back to England with Sunderland.

Ever since he’s played in the Bundesliga - first with Augsburg, then Borussia Dortmund, back to Augsburg, then Darmstadt on loan. He’s set to join Mainz on a free transfer this summer.

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Hungary

Lasha Dvali could well have played for Reading at some point, but only if he’d been able to get a work permit. In the end, the Georgian international was loaned out twice in his two years at the club - first to old club Skonto (Latvia) then to Kasimpasa (Turkey), before quitting the Royals in 2015.

In the subsequent years he’s tried his hand in Germany (MSV Duisburg), Poland (Slask Wroclaw and Pogon Szczecin), Kazakhstan (Irtysh Pavlodar) and Hungary (Ferencvaros), where he currently is.

Iceland

Reading love signing players from Iceland, and there’s a similar trend in the opposite direction with three academy graduates now plying their trade there. Two players are currently at Throttur Vogum in the third tier - Tomas Urbancic is there permanently while Sindri Scheving is on loan from top-tier side Vikingur Reykjavik. Urbancic previously played for HK Kópavogs, who are under the management of one Brynjar Gunnarsson.

Meanwhile, English/Nigerian defender Hammad Lawal ended up at Vestri Ísafjördur in the third division. Quite the change of scenery from when he was on loan at Bishop’s Stortford.

India

Not to be outdone for an exotic move, Carl McHugh decided to move to India. The Irishman joined Bradford after being released by Reading in 2012, had a go with Plymouth and Motherwell, but eventually packed it in and headed over to the Indian Super League with APK a few days ago.

Celtic v Motherwell - Betfred League Cup Final Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Latvia

Estonian attacking midfielder Bogdan Vaštšuk was with Reading from 2013 to 2016. Following his release he joined FC Riga in Latvia where he remains on the books, spending his third year with Riga on loan at Bulgarian first division club Levski Sofia.

Netherlands

Portuguese winger Lisandro Semedo joined Reading’s under-23 team as an exciting prospect from Sporting Lisbon in 2015 on a three year contract. An unsuccessful season in our academy saw him depart over the summer of 2016 for AEZ Zakakiou in Cyprus.

Ahead of the 2017/18 season he joined Apollon Limassol and was immediately loaned out to Fortuna Sittard where he scored 15 goals and assisted a further 15, helping the Eerste Divisie side to promotion by finishing second in the league. His loan was made permanent over the summer which saw him line up alongside current Reading academy player Andrija Novakovich.

Norway

Another Scandinavian country with a few former Royals is Norway. The most prominent player there is Sammi “Fridge” Friðjónsson - famed for his long-throw ability and appearance in Iceland’s 2018 World Cup squad. He’s currently on loan at Axel Andresson’s club Viking from Valerenga.

Russian/Israeli goalkeeper Nikita Khaikin, who was with the Royals in the 2012/13 season, is with FK Bodo/Glimt. His post-Reading career had already taken him to Portugal, Spain, Russia and Israel. Meanwhile, Henrik Breimyr is on the books of Tromsdalen - his playing days after departing Berkshire in 2009 had started off in the less glamorous town of Aldershot, but he’s been in Norway either on loan or permanently since 2011.

Poland

Monte Carlo-born Tom Hateley has had quite the career since leaving Reading a decade ago. The midfielder, son of Mark Hateley, initially went north of the border like plenty of others in this series, and spent four years at Motherwell that included playing in both the Europa League and Champions League, scoring in the former competition.

After a brief time at Tranmere Rovers, he headed over to Poland for spells with Śląsk Wrocław and Piast Gliwice (where he currently is), although the 2016/17 season was spent at Dundee. It’s at Piast where he and the club won their first major honour: the Ekstraklasa (the Polish Premier League).

For a more in-depth look back at his time at Reading, subsequent career and much more, this podcast interview with Christopher Lash (@RightBankWarsaw) is well worth checking out.

Portugal

Marítimo B forward Diogo Firmino (known as Firmino) joined Reading from Nacional da Madeira aged 16 for the 2013/14 season after earlier youth spells at Sporting and Marítimo. After one season in Berkshire he returned to Portugal with União da Madeira in the Campeonato de Portugal (third tier). After breaking into the União first team he was re-signed by Maritimo in 2017 before moving to Maritimo.

Spain

Harry Cooksley’s career has seen him try out clubs on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s currently with Mallorca B, but was briefly on the books of QPR, Aldershot Town and AFC Wimbledon before spending a few years playing college football in America with Limestone College (Gaffney, South Carolina) and St John’s University (New York).

In addition, Jordan Greenidge has ended up with Spanish Segunda División B side Badajoz. The centre forward had previously been at Stoke City and Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus.

Sweden

Another former Reading academy player to have been on the books of Aldershot (which seemingly applies to every other person in this series) is Jan Douglas Bergqvist. He actually had the same initial career path of Cooksley - Reading, then QPR, then Aldershot, but stayed with the Shots for a few years while being loaned out to five non-league sides.

He eventually returned to his nation of birth with Ostersund, playing 125 times before being loaned out to FK Haugesund a few months ago.

Switzerland

This one’s a slight bending of the rules as he’s currently on a career break while being a goalkeeping coach for Grasshopper Club Zürich, but Dean Santangelo is well worth a mention. The Swiss goalie left Reading in 2012 to sign for Augsburg in Germany, and was then handed an (ultimately unsuccessful) trial with Manchester United.

Between 2013 and 2017 he kicked around Switzerland, turning out for Schwamendigen, FC Lugano and Zug 94. It’s unclear whether his current role - training Zurich’s under-15 and under-16 ‘keepers - is a permanent move or if he’ll return to playing in the future.

USA

Former Reading and Barnet youth prospect Theo Alexis is in his second year at Ohio State University, and plays football for them alongside studying economics. Their website describes him as a “holding midfielder with pace and the athletic abilities to cover ground and a passing range that separates him from most”, noting that his ambition is to be a professional footballer after graduating.

Goalkeeper Aleksandr Gogic spent 2013-2015 with Reading’s academy after joining from New York Red Bulls academy. Since departing the Madejski Stadium he had a spell with Fleetwood’s academy in 2015/16 before going back to America. At present he’s the substitute keeper for Jacksonville Armada in the NPSL (the fourth level of American ‘soccer’).

Striker/left winger Daniel Williams (no relation) departed Reading’s academy at the end of 2014/15 with an offer of a scholarship at Lenior Rhyne University in North Carolina at the beginning of summer 2015. After featuring on their roster in his inaugural season he didn’t feature the following season.

Finally, a word on one Erik Opsahl. He joined Reading around the same time as Canadian Ethan Gage, but left the Royals in 2011 to play for St John’s University - the same side as Harry Cooksley. Annoyingly though, we can’t find any mention of him since 2014, so for all we know he’s now out of the game.