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Exclusive: Jason Roberts Recalls ‘Crazy Night’ Against Arsenal

The former Reading striker explained what went wrong for the Royals on a wild night in the League Cup.

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Fourth Round - Reading v Arsenal - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Ex-Reading striker Jason Roberts has been looking back at his Reading career in positive fashion after all the success he had with the club.

Roberts, 42, joined the Royals in 2012 and had two successful seasons with the club. The Big Bad Wolf, as he was known at the time, registered seven goals in his time with the Berkshire club, and assisted six in his 29 appearances.

Despite having an injury-prone tenure in the Championship with the Royals, the 42-year-old looked back at the great successes he had with Reading.

At a BCOMS virtual masterclass session, Roberts said: “Football and life is so weird in that at Reading we had so much success.

“I came into the club after being out of the team at Blackburn. You know there was some contractual issues. I came in and there was a great camaraderie with the team. I had so much success there - we won the league and got to the Premier League. Unfortunately, I got injured so didn’t really feature too much.”

The striker’s most memorable game that he featured in, in the minds of Reading fans, was the fourth-round League Cup tie in 2012 against Arsenal at the Madejski Stadium.

Despite the Royals going 4-0 up in the first half against the Gunners with Roberts notching the first of the night, the unthinkable happened with Arsenal managing to comeback to win the tie 7-5 in extra time. The ex-Grenada International reflected on that crazy night under the lights at the Madejski Stadium.

“But then there was this game… against Arsenal,” Roberts said with a sign of agony on his face looking back at that crazy night. “And actually historically, I’ve had some really good performances and results against Arsenal.

“It has nothing to do with me being a Tottenham fan. I’ve had some really good results against Arsenal. However, the amount of times that people ask me about this Arsenal vs Reading game is unbelievable. I understand why, I’m not blaming anyone but it’s just that moment - it went from so good to so bad so quickly.

Roberts then went into the more intricacies of the game, adding: “4-0 up and we were worth the result. It should have been five in reality. We were absolutely brilliant - I was playing really well that game after coming back from injury.

FBL-ENG-LCUP-READING-ARSENAL
Noel Hunt celebrates making it 4-0
Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

“We were playing strong, we all felt good on the pitch and they scored just before half time. I went into the dressing room and I could feel fear. You could feel it as now we had something to lose.

“This isn’t little plucky Reading coming up against Arsenal beating them and everybody feeling the wind of travel. It was now, what if we lose this? And it’s strange - it’s one of these phenomenons in football where you can feel something coming but you can’t do anything really about it.

“Why does a team score and fall five yards back to their goal? It’s because you have something to protect and it’s a natural human instinct to what if the worst happens.

“We dropped five yards, then we dropped ten yards. We didn’t engage and we didn’t close down with that fearlessness. Then they score another. And then we drop another five yards and they score another and you really start looking at the clock.

“I mean I came when we were winning the game. I took the long walk off the pitch and then unfortunately they came back and won the game.

“And my grandmother who never lets me forget this - for someone in extra time they score and then the camera pans to the sideline and I’m an absolute disgrace with the linesman. Using all sort of profanity, shouting and raging jumping up and down because I knew we were going to lose that game.

“And also, it was a big disappointment coming to the end of my career knowing that these moments don’t come around too often. But overall, it was a crazy night that I will never forget although it being a terrible day in the end.

“All those great results against Arsenal in my career will be remembered by that one result.”