Reading are back in the big time with their 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday confirming their return to the Premier League after a four-year absence.
It completes a remarkable turnaround for the Royals, who were second-from-bottom in the table after four games and a first home win wasn’t secured until mid-September. The club were languishing in 16th in November and were 11 points off the pace when they lost 1-0 to Hull on January 21. That proved to be their last home defeat as they won 15 of their last 17 league games which included a 4-2 success at West Ham and 3-1 win at Southampton – the two teams who had occupied the automatic spots for much of the season.
Into The Top Corner looks at five key players who helped them get back to the big time and their reaction.
Adam Federici (Goalkeeper)
The Australian international has been an ever-present in the Reading goal. The 27 year-old has kept an impressive 19 clean sheets in the league this term and went 490 minutes without conceding a goal earlier in the campaign. Made a brilliant penalty save as Reading beat Brighton 1-0 last week.
Reaction: “It’s great to see everyone so happy. We’ve all worked so hard this season and it’s been a great year and to have the accomplishment at the end of the season is fantastic. The only way to top this season is to do one better and be even better and that is what we will strive to do. It’s been a great year and to top it off like this is unbelievable.”
Ian Harte (Defender)
The former Leeds man is preparing for a top flight return 16 years after his Premier League debut. The 34-year-old Irishman scored a pressure penalty at West Ham last month and his wealth of experience has driven Reading’s promotion charge.
Reaction: “I’m absolutely delighted, We had to grind it out and the fans have been fantastic and it’s an amazing night, this is something is special,. Now we have to try and win on Saturday and win the title.”
Kaspars Gorkšs (Defender)
Gorkss was brought in by Brian McDermott in August to replace outgoing club captain Matt Mills. The Latvia captain came in with Reading in the relegation zone but the experience the 30-year-old gained in helping QPR make the same step last season has helped the Royals.
Reaction: “I can’t believe it. What a fantastic achievement from all the staff, manager and players. You can’t beat this.”
Jem Karacan (Midfielder)
The 23-year-old has risen through the ranks at the Madejski Stadium and he has played an important role in Reading’s midfield this season. Born in London, his mother is English but he has represented Turkey up to under-21 level.
Reaction: “It’s unbelievable and what an honour. It’s an honour to be part of this great squad. We all deserve it and it is a fantastic day for everyone at the club.”
Jason Roberts (Striker)
Reading are blessed with a talented trio of strikers in Noel Hunt, Adam Le Fondre and Simon Church. But signing 34-year-old Roberts from Blackburn in the transfer window proved a masterstroke. Roberts has left Championship defenders battered and bruised, scoring six crucial goals in 15 games – including Reading’s first goal in their 3-1 win at Southampton last week – the win that sent them top.
Reaction: “It’s a little bit surreal really. I’ve enjoyed it and it is great to know we are going up but I want to win it now. I want to be Champions. Today is a special day. The whole team has done a great job, but because I’m 34 I’m definitely enjoying it more.”