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Alex joins the Elite

17 May 2013

McCarthy reaches international stage

Alex McCarthy’s call up to the England squad has propelled the goalkeeper into a historic elite group of Reading players who have become internationals. Many are tipping Alex to become the next player to achieve big things from a Reading grounding in the modern era, following in the footsteps of such names as… 

Kerry Dixon, who played over 100 games for the Royals, featured for England in the mid 1980s - and at the 1986 World Cup. The striker played for Reading for three seasons early on in his career, racking up over 100 appearances and scoring over 50 goals. Dixon made his big move from Elm Park to Stamford Bridge for a £175,000 fee, spending almost a decade at Chelsea and became the club’s third highest ever goalscorer – only behind Bobby Tambling and Frank Lampard, who overtook the former Royal this season. Dixon played for England during his time in West London, and shined in a 3-0 friendly win over West Germany in which he scored twice, and set up Bryan Robson for the other. At Mexico ’86, he was limited to just the one substitute appearance against Poland.

Reading-born Neil Webb went on to represent the Three Lions during the late 80s and 90s after starting his career at Elm Park. Webb moved on to Portsmouth and then spent the majority of his playing days at Nottingham Forest under their most successful manager of all-time, Brian Clough. Sandwiched between his time at the City Ground, Webb won the League Cup just months before enjoying a three-year spell, albeit injury hit, at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. He was capped 26 times in five years for England, including a 1990 World Cup third place play-off appearance against Italy, and was the 1,000th player to feature for our nation.

Bobby Convey is another former Royal who has played at a World Cup. The American winger spent five seasons at Madejski Stadium between 2004 and 2009 – between spells at MLS giants D.C. United and San Jose Eathquakes. Convey became the third youngest player in history to play for the Unites States in 2000, and racked up nearly 50 international caps, three of which were at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. His dangerous free kick caused an own goal against Italy, earning a 1-1 draw. Then-Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was an unused substitute during the World Cup.

Ady Williams reached double figures for Wales caps, former skipper and legend Graeme Murty also played internationally during his lengthy spell at the club, picking up four caps for Scotland - while fellow defender Ibrahima Sonko was also capped for Senegal. During Leroy Lita's time at Reading, the striker earned a recall into England’s under-21s side and made his return in the opening competitive game at Wembley Stadium, as 55,000 spectators witnessed thrilling 3-3 draw with Italy.

Nicky Shorey made history on 1st June 2007 by becoming only the third Reading player to be capped by England. The current Royal, who made over 250 appearances in his first spell, earned a call up to Steve McClaren and played alongside the likes of David Beckham, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen.

Shorey was our first full England international since the legendary Herbert Smith in 1906, while 5 ft 4 Royals defender Johnny Holt – the shortest centre half to have ever played for the Three Lions – won the last of his ten England caps on 17 March 1900. It is argued that Edward Brownlow Haygarth was actually the first Reading man to play for England, though there is some that he was in fact a Royal, as records have him down as a player for Slough-based club Swifts.

Current shot-stopper Adam Federici has also played for his country. He was produced three brilliant performances for Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was an unused substitute at the 2010 World Cup, providing back up for Mark Schwarzer.

Another player who has gone on to flourish on the international scene is Kevin Doyle.  Signed for just £78,000, the Irishman flourished at Madejski Stadium over a four year period – in which time he evolved to the Republic of Ireland first team. Named the FAI Young Player of 2006, Doyle reached 50 international caps against Italy at Euro 2012.

Shane Long needs no introduction to Royals supporters young and old. Starring under Brian McDermott, Longy went from strength to strength during his time at RG2 and went on to shine on the international stage. He has so far accumulated 36 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, scoring eight goals in a selection of friendlies and World Cup and European qualifiers. Long made two substitute appearances at Euro 2012. Academy graduate Simon Cox also played at the recent European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, featuring in all three of their group fixtures.

Another successful product of our Academy, Gylfi Sigurdsson, has excelled on the big stage. Gylfi became a fans’ favourite during his two seasons at Reading and since departing Madejski Stadium, the 23-year-old played for Bundesliga side 1899 Hoggenheim, enjoyed a very effective loan spell at Swansea City before making his move to Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur. In this time, Sigurdsson has represented his native Iceland 16 times, scoring four goals.

Current crop
Current Royal Hal Robson-Kanu is the latest Reading man to shine on the international stage. The winger is now a Wales regular after his best season yet at Madejski Stadium. Hal has seven club goals to his name this season, and one for his country – a winning goal for the Dragons away at Scotland in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

He is now frequently involved in the Welsh set up alongside Chris Gunter and Simon Church, while Federici, as stated, has played for Australia and was an unused substitute at the 2010 World Cup. Academy graduates Jem Karacan and Alex Pearce have played for Turkey and the Republic of Ireland respectively, while Noel Hunt and Stephen Kelly have also been called up to ROI.

As mentioned, Shorey has played for England while Pavel Pogrebnyak, Mikele Leigertwood and Kaspars Gorkss have all represented their respective nations – while Jamaican trio Adrian Mariappa, Jobi McAnuff and Garath McCleary are all keenly involved in the Reggae Boyz’ 2014 World Cup bid. 

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