Academy graduate ends 14-year long Royals careerFormer Royals centre-back Alex Pearce yesterday signed a three-year deal with Championship side Derby County - and all at Reading Football Club would like to wish him all the best for the future.
Pearce, whose contract expired this summer, first joined the Royals' Academy at the age of 12 and the no-nonsense defender came through the ranks to rack up more than 200 appearances for the first team after making his debut in an FA Cup win over Burnley back in January 2007.
The former Northampton, Bournemouth, Norwich and Southampton loanee eventually cemented a place in the back four at Reading and he would go on to win the Player of the Season award at Madejski Stadium in 2011-12.
The Republic of Ireland international wore the captain's armband in the absence of Jem Karacan during the second half of last season, making 39 league starts but scoring his only goal of 2014-15 in an Ireland friendly against Oman.
Pearce called the club today asking to send a message of thanks to fans, players and management staff alike who have helped him through his 14 years as a Royal.
"It's obviously sad for me to be leaving a club that I have been with for so long," he began. "I came to Reading when I was just 12 years old, a long, long time ago. I'm 26 now, so this club has been more than half my life!
"So moving away was a massive thing, but I feel it’s the right time for a new challenge now.
“I would like to thank the fans, first and foremost, for being so good to me. I will never forget them making me Player of the Season at the end of the season we went up, personally that was a big thing for me.
“And I also need to thank each and every player I played with, and each and every manager and coach for helping me develop into the player I am.
“Coming through the Academy system at Reading is something I’m very proud of. It was a real pleasure to be a part of a great group that all came through the ranks with myself and went on to break into the first team.
“Reading is a great club which rightly prides itself on its Academy – there is a really great thing going on there and long may that continue.
“Last season was difficult for the club, everyone knows that, but I have every confidence in Reading moving forward and I want to wish all my teammates the best of luck next season. Hopefully they’ll be right up there! I’ve had a great time, but now it’s time to move on.”