Many players come through the Reading academy system hoping to make it in the Premier League or, at least, the second-tier.
However there is still a good career to be had in the lower reaches of the English game and here we bring a (hopefully) complete list of those who have passed through the Mad Stad doors, and currently play in League Two.
Pierce Sweeney was part of Reading academy’s Premier League Cup-winning side of 2014 - the same side that featured Aaron Kuhl, Jack Stacey, Aaron Tshibola and Liam Kelly to name but a few. Unfortunately he didn’t translate that into first-team success, heading out to Exeter City on a permanent basis in 2016.
He’s since made more than 130 appearances for the Grecians, where of course the late Eamonn Dolan was involved both in his playing and coaching careers. Sweeney has also linked up with some other former Royals at St James Park - Jack Stacey was on loan there, while Jake Taylor also moved to Exeter in 2016 and has played 200 times for the club.
Another member of that PL Cup team was striker Harry Cardwell. He’d been added to Reading’s academy from Hull City as a highly rated young forward, but was released in 2017 before being signed by Grimsby Town. In his first consistent run at regular league football, Cardwell has scored twice in 44 appearances for Town.
One of the few Reading players to represent his country at the Toulon Tournament, Scottish defender Zak Jules left the Royals permanently in the summer of 2017. Before then, he’d gone out on loan to Hemel Hempstead, Braintree Town and Motherwell, even playing a few times for the Royals in Jaap Stam’s first pre-season.
However, he quit the club for Shrewsbury Town rather than continuing his development in Berkshire, and soon went out on loan to Chesterfield. Unfortunately, a serious hamstring injury cut short his development and he would ultimately never play for Salop, instead getting a handful of loan spells elsewhere. He later moved to Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield Town where he still is.
Stuart Moore, brother of Sheffield United goalkeeper Simon, is yet to find the first-team regular football that he never did at Reading. The 24 year-old has turned out for Barrow Town, Swindon Town and finally MK Dons in the last two seasons, not making more than 18 appearances for any one of those clubs.
The first Afghan player to appear in the Football League was none other than former Reading midfielder Noor Husin. Unfortunately he never got the chance to set that record in Berkshire, but was given a chance to do so elsewhere, turning out in the lower tiers for Accrington Stanley and Notts County, having not appeared for Crystal Palace in an 18-month stay.
This interview with Husin on the BBC from Daniel Storey is well worth a read, and gives a great insight into the life of a man who made it in England after arriving as a refugee.
After leaving in 2017, Terence Vancooten immediately found a Football League home at Stevenage, where he’s played 39 times. He even returned to the Madejski Stadium in January 2018 when Town came to Reading for a FA Cup third-round replay, but was kept on the bench for the full game.