19-year-old full-back Omar Richards has put pen to paper on a contract which keeps him at Reading Football Club until the summer of 2021.
Richards, who made his full first team debut in our Carabao Cup win over Gillingham before starting his first ever league match earlier this month in the Royals’ 4-2 victory over Derby County, has impressed the manager and his coaching staff this season and has been rewarded with a long-term deal at Reading.
Manager Jaap Stam said, “Omar is a left-back with a lot of quality on the ball, pace and real drive going forward – and those are attributes which every team in football is looking for in a player.
“Of course he still needs to learn and improve, he knows that. But he’s already showing what he can do and is knocking on the door of the first team. That is a very good sign and we’re very happy we have him in our squad.”
Omar joined the Royals at Under-16 level after being released by Fulham and he soon excelled within our Category One Academy set-up, making 22(+1) appearances for our Under-23s last season, scoring his only goal of the Premier League 2 campaign against Sunderland.
Richards was included as part of the travelling party which went to Oosterbeek for our pre-season training camp ahead of the start of the 2017-18 campaign and he was the only member of the squad who played in all four fixtures out in Holland – two games per day on two separate occasions!
And the young left-back was drafted into the first team squad and came off the bench as a substitute for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson after the Royals had been reduced to ten men on the opening day of the Championship season at QPR.
His stand out performance came at Pride Park at the start of November however, starting against the Rams to earn plenty of plaudits and three important points on his full league debut in Derby.
Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said, “It is so important to firstly recognise the young talent which is emerging from our Academy ranks and then to reward them with first team opportunity when the time is right. And Omar is the latest example of Academy system success at Reading Football Club – I am delighted to secure his services for the next three and a half years.”
Technical Director Brian Tevreden added, “Omar has impressed everyone this season, stepping up from the Under-23s set-up to break into the first team squad on seven separate occasions so far in 2017-18, so this contract is just reward for the maturity he has shown and the progress he is making as a Reading player.”