Defender aiming to build success on unityAfter returning from a history-making Gold Cup tournament with Jamaica, Royals defender Michael Hector is hopeful that strong team spirit will be the catalyst for a successful season with Reading.
The centre-half played his first pre-season friendly of the summer on Saturday in a rather prickly goalless draw against Espanyol – and a flashpoint just after the hour-mark saw Jordan Obita and Alvaro Gonzalez each shown a red card. While he is still getting to know some of the new faces in the camp, he felt that the Royals side showed solidity in both their football and their camaraderie.
“It was good to spend the pre-season period at the Gold Cup, but it meant missing the tour to Thailand and the chance to mix with the new players, so I’m just getting to know them now,” reflected Hector after the match. “We’ve got a week to do a bit more team bonding and for me to find out a bit more about their personalities.
“You can see that they’ve got good character, so I think they can add to the dressing room. You need good team spirit if you want to do well in anything in life. If we can get a good team spirit, we can go anywhere.
“Espanyol are a good side in La Liga – it was a bit of a tasty match with some of the tackles. It was good that it wasn’t just an easy-going game, and it meant a bit to a few players and we got a real test against a good side.
“There were a few challenges going in, and our players were protecting themselves. It was good that we backed each other when their players came out of the dugout – it’s important that we were all sticking together.
“And it was good that we were able to keep a solid shape, and that’s what the gaffer always works on. It’s about keeping a solid shape and playing from there, and I thought we did that really well. They had a lot of quality up front and in midfield, so it was good that we could keep them at bay, keep our sheet clean and we’ll take those positives from the game."
Hector played the first 60 minutes of the game, and was given the responsibility of captaincy by manager Steve Clarke for the afternoon. After several loan spells away from Madejski Stadium following his graduation from the Academy, the defender established himself as a regular starter last year and made 49 appearances in Reading colours.
Chris Gunter, Jordan Obita and Danny Williams have all also had the opportunity to lead the team out of the tunnel in pre-season – and Hec admitted that it was a pleasing moment to be given that duty and the chance to put his leadership qualities into action.
“From where I was when I first arrived at Reading to wearing the armband in any game is a great honour,” he continued. “It was a proud moment for me and some of my family members were here at the game, so it was good that they could see me wearing the captain’s armband.
“The manager told me I would have the armband just before the warm-up – I didn’t really know what to say! But it was a proud moment for me to captain Reading Football Club. I’m still young, so it’s great that the manager had that trust in me to give me the armband in the game. Hopefully I can grow into being a better leader – everyone has to be a leader in this team.”
Reading FC PlayerHD subscribers can watch a full post-match interview with Michael Hector by clicking below.