It is almost exactly ten years since Jordan Obita made his first team debut for Reading on 11 August 2010 against Torquay United. At 16 years, eight months and three days old, he stood as the second-youngest player to ever feature for the club.
191 appearances later, Obita’s Reading career has come to an end. He has transformed from a teenage winger to a reliable full-back, becoming one of our greatest ever academy graduates in the process.
As he departs for pastures new, it’s only right to look back at some of his finest moments in blue and white from the last decade.
5. First goal vs Nottingham Forest
Having made his debut in 2010, Obita properly broke into the first team (after a few loan spells) in the 2013/14 season under Nigel Adkins. In November of that season, Reading travelled to Nottingham Forest on a cold Friday night looking for a victory to boost their play-off hopes.
Goals from Pavel Pogrebnyak and Kaspars Gorkss put the Royals 2-0 up inside 13 minutes, but the hosts drew level in the second half to set up a nervy final half an hour. Step up 19-year-old Jordan Obita, left alone on the left hand side of the box to smash home and steal the win. His first goal for the club couldn’t have come in more vital circumstances, and the three points meant Reading leapfrogged Forest to reach fourth in the Championship.
4. Named captain for the first time
The 23-month injury hell that Obita went through after damaging his knee against Hull City in September 2017 was something you would not wish upon your worst enemy. The academy graduate thought he may never play again after suffering multiple set-backs, so it must have been the sweetest moment when he stepped back on the field for the first team last August.
Obita’s first appearance in 703 days came against Plymouth Argyle in the League Cup, and he was given the honour of being Reading captain for the first time too. On a night when the Royals started with eight players who had come through the club’s academy, with a further three on the bench, to have one of the greatest graduates of them all leading the side out on his return from injury was truly special. A 4-2 victory was secured at Home Park.
3. Player of the season winner
Obita went from strength to strength in his debut season of 2013/14, and moved to left-back mid-way through the campaign after injury to Wayne Bridge. It was a switch that massively paid off. He made the position his own, featuring in every game from January 11 onwards and registering four assists.
Come the end of the campaign as Reading agonisingly missed out on the play-offs in the dying seconds of the final, Obita was voted as the fans’ player of the season to cap off an excellent breakthrough year. He was still only 20 years old, and became became the fourth academy graduate to win the award after Gylfi Sigurðsson, Shane Long and Alex Pearce. Obita’s reward was a call-up to England’s under-20 squad for the Toulon Tournament that summer.
2. First goal back after injury vs Millwall
Obita’s comeback from injury was complete when he got on the scoresheet against Millwall last November. Just nine minutes were on the clock when Liam Moore’s long throw was headed out to the edge of the box, with the ball set up perfectly for the onrushing Obita to strike it.
He met it first time, hitting it cleanly as it arrowed into the far corner. He quickly ran away to Y26 in celebration - the relief, joy and passion evident in his face. It was Obita’s fifth goal in a Reading shirt, but his first at the Madejski Stadium and you could tell how much it meant to him. Sitting in the stands, it was a moment to give you goosebumps.
1. Scoring against Fulham in the play-offs
Not just Obita’s most memorable moment, but one of Reading’s most memorable moments in recent years. Having finished third in the regular Championship season in 2016/17, the Royals faced much-fancied Fulham in the play-offs. They travelled to Craven Cottage for the first leg, the location of a 5-0 drubbing earlier in the season.
After a goalless first half, eight minutes after the break Paul McShane broke through into midfield and played Obita in just inside the box on the left-hand side. The academy graduate took a touch to set himself before firing a crisp, low, diagonal shot that struck the far post and went in. He couldn’t have hit it much sweeter, and it was even better coming in front of Reading’s travelling fans. Cue wild scenes of celebration in the away end as the Premier League dream edged ever closer.