Reading Football Club are delighted to announce that 26-year-old goalkeeper Sam Walker has completed a move to Madejski Stadium, completing his medical earlier today and putting pen to paper this evening on a deal which keeps him in RG2 until 2021.
Manager Paul Clement said, “I’m very happy Sam has signed a contract here. He is going to provide good competition for that position within our squad.
“I am looking forward to reuniting with him here at Reading, 10 years since working with him as a youth player at Chelsea. In those ten years, Sam has gained a lot of valuable experience and he will prove a great addition to the group.”
The former Chelsea youngster – who first worked under Clement as a young goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge - already has 279 starts next to his name on a CV which begins with an FA Youth Cup win over Aston Villa in 2010.
Born in Gravesend, Walker’s very early career began at Millwall before he joined Chelsea’s ranks at the age of 15 and he started between the posts in both legs of the FA Youth Cup showpiece; Walker conceded just three goals throughout the entire competition, seeing off Charlton Athletic, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Watford and Blackburn Rovers en route to the final against Villa.
The 6’6” stopper’s professional debut came two days into a loan spell with Barnet when he played the full 90 minutes in a draw with Chesterfield at Underhill. A loan stint at Northampton Town followed – Walker earning a clean sheet on debut in a goalless affair with Accrington Stanley – before spells with League One’s Yeovil Town and League Two outfit Bristol Rovers.
Colchester United reintroduced Walker to League One football when they secured his services on loan in January 2013 and he kept clean sheets in his first and last games during that first spell in Essex, helping United stay up!
He returned to United for the first half of the 2013-14 campaign and made his move to Colchester permanent in January 2014. Despite playing only once during a 2015-16 campaign which was halted by a long-term knee injury, Walker came back stronger and commanded the no.1 shirt to start every league game the following season.
Last season, Sam played 47 times across a campaign which saw United finish in 13th place in League Two. His contract at Colchester at an end, Walker has been in high demand this summer – but the gifted young goalkeeper has opted to commit his future to the Royals.
Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said, “Sam is a talented goalkeeper who also possesses experience beyond his years – nearly 300 professional appearances for a keeper who is still only 26 years of age demonstrates how vital a part he has played at Colchester United and his previous clubs. I am delighted he has agreed to be part of the squad we are trying to build here at Reading Football Club.”
Technical Director Brian Tevreden added, “Competition for places is imperative and, having been a regular at Colchester United, Sam will be pushing hard for the gloves this season. He has both experience and a lot of potential and I am delighted we have been able to secure his signature in what is always a competitive market.”