Centre-forward on his first few months with the RoyalsWinter window signing Deniss Rakels has quickly become a cult hero with the Royals faithful – the former Cracovia striker notched his third goal since his arrival against QPR last weekend, and business is booming at the Latvian deli on Oxford Road.
In his first interview in English since joining the club, he admitted that he was flattered that the Reading fans had embraced him so quickly and to hear his name ringing around Loftus Road last weekend.
“I heard the song at the stadium and then after the game I saw some videos on YouTube and Instagram – I like this, it is very good!” smiled Deniss.
“I played in Poland and Latvia, and now here in England – and everywhere fans seem to like me! I don’t know why, but that’s a normal situation for me.”
The past three months have provided Deniss with lots of learning opportunities – both on the pitch, where he admits he is playing on a higher plain than he has previously, and off the field where he is in the process of mastering his fourth language.
“I’m enjoying my time and I’m very happy that I’m here,” he continued.
“It’s a big club with good guys – players, staff, coaches. It’s my first time in England and for me it is a very good three months. I live in the centre of Reading and I have seen this beautiful town.
“My English is getting better and better – I speak with the guys in the dressing room and the coaches, but I think with three months more I will speak very good! I speak Russian, Latvian, Polish and now English – with three or four more months I think I will speak English very well.
“It is a good atmosphere in the dressing room. I have spent most time speaking with Michael Hector, Ola John and Danny Williams – all the guys here are good!
“It is a higher level for me – it is higher than Poland, and Latvian football is not a good level. It is good for me and I know I can play at this level.”
The Latvian striker is yet to find the net at Madejski Stadium – his three goals have all come on the road, against Charlton, Leeds and QPR.
He picked out the goal which opened his account as a particularly special occasion – making it 4-3 in the dying embers of the game at The Valley – and looked ahead to the next two games and beyond.
“My best moment so far was my goal to win against Charlton – I played three or four minutes and scored the goal to win the game,” Deniss said. “It was unbelievable.
“And now of course now I want to keep playing – we have two very important games. Saturday is our last game at Madejski Stadium and we want to win the game.
“First we want to win these next two games, but then after the holidays we can think about next season. Next year is very important for us as players – I hope that next year will be very good for us.”