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Reading's 25 Under 25: Part Two

An academy graduate and a future coach feature this time.

Paul Canoville Photo by Simon Bruty/Getty Images

We continue our search for the most notable Reading players who made fewer than 25 appearances for the club. Make sure to read the first piece here, and look out for the rest of the series in the coming days.


Orlando Sa

21 appearances, now plays for Standard Liege

Having appeared for Portugal at youth level, won the Portuguese cup with Porto, as well as a Polish league title and cup win to his name, Orlando Sa arrived with an aura of star quality undermined by whispers of injuries and inconsistency.

He went on to miss a pen on his debut. However, he still looked promising and while the team were flying under Steve Clarke, scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 thumping of Ipswich Town, one of the best performances by a Reading side in recent years (check out Norwood's goal from that game).

Ultimately though, he went missing a bit too often and with questions over his fitness, he found himself on the fringes under McDernott. Come January, just seven months into his three year deal, Reading shipped him off to Maccabi Tel Aviv. The chances are the club lost a bit of money, but the feeling was a bullet may have been dodged.

The 31 year-old eventually moved on to Standard Liege, later heading to Chinese side Henan Jianye in February 2018 but returning to Liege a few months later, where he’s been ever since.

Let's be honest though, the only reason we'll remember him is the chant to the tune of Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'. That was great fun to belt out in the stands.


Aaron Tshibola

17 appearances, now plays for Aston Villa

One of the more recent entries in this series, Aaron Tshibola is arguably one of the best products of Reading's academy in the past few seasons. He made his debut for the club with a brief cameo at the end of a 4-0 rout at the City Ground, but barely featured under Nigel Adkins before the gaffer was sacked in December 2014.

It was at Hartlepool where 'Tish' really came of age. Joining Pool in January 2015, he made 23 appearances as the County Durham side turned their season around to avoid relegation into non-league football.

Unsurprisingly, new manager Steve Clarke brought him straight into the first team at the start of the following season, with the youngster - maybe wrongly - seeing a goal ruled out at Birmingham City on the opening day of the campaign. He went from strength to strength and would have featured more were it not for injury.

Disappointingly, he opted to join Aston Villa the following summer, for whom he's still made only 10 appearances. The Premier League team have sent him out on loan to MK Dons, Nottingham Forest and Kilmarnock - recently under the management of one Steve Clarke.

Talent wasted?


Paul Canoville

16 appearances, now runs a foundation

Paul Canoville made history in 1982 when he became Chelsea’s first black player. He scored 15 goals in 103 appearances for The Blues, but vicious racial abuse from his own fans made his stay in West London horrible. After a four-year stay at Stamford Bridge, he joined Reading in 1986.

There, he became part of an Ian Branfoot side that had just won promotion from the old Third Division. After only a few months with Reading in the Second Division, Canoville dislocated his knee, tore cartilage and ruptured his cruciate ligament in a match against Sunderland.

He would never play professional football again, but did turn out for the likes of Enfield, Maidenhead United, Burnham and Egham Town. After retirement, Canoville heroically beat cancer three times and fought off drug addiction, before writing an award-nominated autobiography called Black And Blue. He’s also worked as a teaching assistant, and set up the foundation ‘Motivate to Change’.


Sal Bibbo

9 appearances, now a goalkeeping coach at Arsenal

Born in Basingstoke and with Italian roots, Bibbo never got a real run of games for any club, until at the end of his career in non-league, due to having some good 'keepers in front of him. In his two years at Reading, Bobby Mihailov and Steve Mautone restricted him to just nine appearances.

However, what he went on to achieve once he'd hung up his boots due to injury is something the club will always remember him for. Initially joining on a part-time basis in 2003, he took on the role of full-time goalkeeping coach in 2006, taking up the role that Nicky Hammond was vacating.

Soccer - FA Cup - Third Round - Huddersfield Town v Reading FC - John Smith’s Stadium centre

His charges roll off the tongue as players who have had a big influence at Reading, or gone on to other heights. He was key in the development of players like Jamie Ashdown, Alex McCarthy, Adam Federici, Mikkel Andersen and Ben Hamer. Among those we have multi-million pound players, Champions League appearances and an FA Cup winner’s medal. He must also take credit for the likes of Jonathan Henly who went on to represent his country at under-21 level.

Known for a strong work ethic and a great sense of humour, Bibbo is well-regarded within the game and is now at Arsenal, where he helped one Emiliano Martinez. The Argentine ‘keeper acknowledged Bibbo as a reason for joining Reading on loan last season.


Nathan Aké

5 appearances, now plays for Bournemouth

Aké was signed on a short-term loan from Chelsea by former Blues’ coach Steve Clarke in March 2015. A promising young player with pedigree, the versatile Dutchman had been Chelsea’s Young Player of the Year for the 2012/13 season.

On joining the Royals, the 20 year-old was slotted into the starting eleven for the five league games he was eligible for, featuring in three draws and two losses as Reading endured a torrid end to the season. Despite his donning the blue and white hoops during such a poor run of form, fans were keen to see Aké’s loan extended – the youngster’s talent and determination was clear to see in this brief spell.

Unfortunately for Royals fans, it was not meant to be and Aké has instead established himself as a first-team footballer in the Premier League after loan spells with Watford and Bournemouth. After he was recalled from the Bournemouth loan to provide competition in the 2016/17 title-winning Chelsea team, he re-joined the Cherries on a permanent basis.