“In 2003, I worked with Andre Bikey, who was 18 years old at that time. So I followed his career and I still have a very good relationship with him.”
Former Reading manager José Gomes made a number of interesting comments in his recent interview with BBC Radio Berkshire, but that might just have been the most bizarre.
Who knew that the Portuguese boss had previously coached the Cameroonian defender, long before either of them had probably even heard of Reading.
It got me thinking - which other former Royals have previously been teammates at other clubs, but never featured together for Reading? Read on to find out more on the Gomes/Bikey partnership plus five other random connections...
José Gomes and Andre Bikey
As Gomes explained, he first coached Bikey in 2003, when the pair were at Portuguese Liga side Pacos de Ferreira.
Both had joined the club that summer - it was Gomes’ first job as a first team manager, whilst Bikey had never played top-flight football before. However neither stuck around very long.
Gomes was sacked after losing seven of the first eight games of the season (two of which Bikey played in). The defender never played for the club again after Gomes’ departure, leaving in the January transfer window to join José at his new club, second tier side Aves.
Sadly the pair never reunited again after they both left Aves a few months later, as their respective careers became characterised by short spells at clubs in a number of different countries.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Danny Williams and Sandro Wieser
After Gylfi Sigurdsson’s quite incredible breakthrough season at Reading in 2009-10, supporters were almost resigned to losing him in the summer, and he eventually left on deadline day for a club record sale fee to German Bundesliga side Hoffenheim. Despite starting just 13 games in his debut campaign, the midfielder was voted the club’s player of the season after scoring ten times.
In the summer of 2011, Hoffenheim bolstered their midfield options even further by signing Danny Williams from SC Freiburg. But as he settled in to life at his new club, Sigurdsson was enduring a difficult second season and the pair only played five games together (W1, D2, L2) before the Icelander joined Swansea City on loan in the January transfer window.
As Sigurdsson departed, one Sandro Wieser arrived from FC Basel. The Lichtenstein international’s most notable contribution in a Reading shirt was getting sent off in an under-23s game, and his impact for Hoffenheim was equally embarrassing, as his only appearance came in a 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, which Williams also featured in.
The American would go on to join Reading in 2013, with Wieser following him to Berkshire (via Swiss side FC Thun) three years later.
Nelson Oliveira and Ola John
In total, these two former Reading loanees spent four years together at Benfica, but actually only played together once - indicative of how little playing time both got at the Estádio da Luz.
Oliveira came through the academy at the Portuguese side to make his debut in 2011, while John signed from FC Twente in 2012, but their solitary shared appearance came in 2014 against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. John played the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw, and Oliveira came on as a 76th minute substitute.
Benfica won the Primeira Liga that season, with John getting a medal after making 26 league appearances. He would make the temporary switch to Berkshire the following season. Meanwhile, Oliveira had departed on loan to Swansea in the January transfer window and left permanently for Norwich in 2016.
Liam Moore and Matt Mills
A boyhood Leicester City supporter, current Reading captain Liam Moore made his senior debut for the Foxes alongside former Royals skipper Matt Mills in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in January 2012.
It was one of just two appearances for the teenage centre-back that season, after he had spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Bradford City. Meanwhile, Mills had moved to the King Power Stadium from Berkshire the previous summer following defeat in the play-off final to Swansea.
A month after the Palace game, Mills was involved in a bust-up with manager Nigel Pearson leading to him being stripped of the captaincy, forced to train with the academy and never play for the club again. Stay classy, Matt.
Andy Griffin, Yakubu and Jamie Ashdown
At the heart of Portsmouth’s side (well, three players’ worth) in their second Premier League season in 2004-05 were a trio of Royals alumni.
The South Coast club had signed goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown from Reading that summer, along with right-back Andy Griffin from Newcastle, who would go on to win the Championship with the Royals in 2012. Yakubu, scorer of that FA Cup goal against Derby in 2015, had already been at Fratton Park for 18 months.
The Nigerian featured the most that season, scoring 16 goals in 32 appearances - Griffin featured in half of those games, and Ashdown in nine. All three played together on just three occasions though (W2, L1).
After Yakubu’s departure to Middlesbrough in summer 2005, Ashdown and Griffin featured alongside each other 13 more times in 2005-06, keeping two clean sheets.
Nick Blackman and Dave Kitson
In signing both Nick Blackman and Dave Kitson in the summer of 2012, Sheffield United (then of League One) created a rather fruitful strike partnership between two players who both enjoyed hot goalscoring streaks at the Madejski Stadium.
The two played together for the Blades on 18 occasions (W8, D7, L3) before Blackman made the move to Reading in the January transfer window, scoring a combined total of 12 goals in those matches. This included Kitson assisting Blackman on three occasions, and Blackman setting up his partner once. Quite fittingly, their last appearance together came against Reading in the FA Cup.
Speaking in October 2012, Blackman said of Kitson: “Dave is so experienced, he never stops talking to me throughout the game, which only benefits my performance and he has also done really well.”