Reading Football Club are delighted to announce the signing of full-back Stephen Kelly from Fulham.
The 29-year-old Republic of Ireland international first came through the youth ranks at Tottenham, breaking into the Spurs first team nine years ago and has since impressed on the Premier League stage with Birmingham City, Stoke City on loan, and most recently at Craven Cottage.
Comfortable on either the right or the left side of defence, the Dubliner made 34 appearances for Fulham last season and joins us on a two-and-a-half year contract to become our third signing of the January transfer window, following moves for midfielders Daniel Carrico and Hope Akpan earlier this month.
“I’m delighted to have Stephen here,” manager Brian McDermott said. “He has played a lot of games in the Premier League and more than 30 times for his country. He’s the kind of player I’ve been talking about – someone with great experience, but at 29 still young in football terms and at a really good stage in his career.
“I’ve always liked him as a player, and the first time I met him was at Kevin Doyle’s wedding a while ago now and I thought he was a top guy. I know he’s going to fit into the dressing room here really well. He’s up for the fight, up for the battle, he’s hungry, he wants to do well and I know he’ll be successful for us.”
Chairman Sir John Madejski added, “It’s a great signing for Reading Football Club. He’s a proven international and Premier League player and he seems like a lovely guy as well. We’ve had some great success stories with players from Ireland in recent years and I’m sure the signing of Stephen will be no different. I’m delighted he has signed and we all wish him very well during his career at Reading.”
Kelly has made 125 Premier League appearances to date and becomes our fourth most experienced top flight player at the club, behind only Ian Harte, Jason Roberts and Nicky Shorey.
At Fulham last season, Stephen made Europa League starts against the likes of Danish runners-up Odense, Polish champions Wisla Krakow and Dutch high-flyers FC Twente. But, more notably, Kelly helped Roy Hodgson’s side finish as runners-up in the same competition during his first season as a Fulham player, playing a part in a 4-1 win over Juventus en route to a Hamburg final against Atletico Madrid back in 2010.
A regular in the Republic of Ireland team, Kelly led the side out against Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium back in March 2011, captaining his country for the first time.
He was part of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad who took part in the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine last summer – and his most recent international appearance came in a friendly against Oman in September, in which he lined up in defence alongside Republic of Ireland debutant Alex Pearce.
Kelly played in the same team as striker Pavel Pogrebnyak under Martin Jol last season and also started alongside Nicky Shorey in his first campaign at Craven Cottage.
The move is still subject to final ratification of all paperwork from the football authorities but we expect this to be a formality. He will take squad number 27 and, although not signed in time to be in contention for a place in the squad this weekend, Kelly will be at Madejski Stadium to watch his new teammates take on West Brom on Saturday.