McDermott reflects on Long's tenure at Reading
Ahead of today's clash with West Bromwich Albion, Brian McDermott hailed the club's continuous ability to unearth hidden gems - such as Shane Long.
Having signed for the Royals from Cork for a minimal fee in 2005, Shane went from strength to strength at Madejski Stadium - and flourished under Brian McDermott.
"Shane's impact since 18 years of age has been phenomenal," Brian remarked. "He could play for anyone in the country, he could play for the top four – he could play for anyone," he said.
"He's a great character and works really hard. I saw that Sir Alex Ferguson mentioned him the other day and said what a top player he was – and he knows what he's on about. I remember when I first put him in the team, he wasn't scoring – but he was giving us so much. Then he started to score as well and he was phenomenal for us.
"I'll never forget seeing him at Wembley - he was devastated after that. He wanted to stay, I wanted him to stay –but we couldn't afford to keep him. We had to sell to survive at that time. We had to sell our captain, we had to sell Shane. He was such a big part of what we were trying to do here.
"That's what makes Reading exciting, you can sign players like that and find players like that. Some fans may have been critical of signing two boys from Cork man years ago, those same fans may have said the same thing thing now. I don’t know. I just think that if I feel the player has the quality that can play in the Premier League, then whatever division he comes from, it doesn't matter."
If selected, Long would be thrilled to play at Madejski Stadium once again - and says that he has a great deal of respect for the club and our fans.
"There is competition up front but if I do get the nod I'll be delighted to play at the Madejski again," Longy said. "It was probably one of the first games I looked for when the fixtures came out at the start of the season.
"I have nothing but respect for the club and the supporters and everybody involved. It will be strange to go back and play against them and be in the away dressing room but I’m looking forward to it."