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McCarthy debut makes more Academy history

Goalkeeper becomes first Royals Academy graduate to represent England...

16 November 2018

When, during the last international break, Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah earned his first England senior cap in a win against Spain - he became the ninth player in the Madejski Stadium era to have represented both the Royals and the England national team!

At the end of an article, run in the last issue of the matchday programme, we wrote "Here’s to many more in the future!" 

Little did we know that in the next England international, that tally would be taken to ten but the first Reading Football Club Academy graduate to pull on an England shirt!

Guildford-born goalkeeper Alex McCarthy joined the Reading ranks as a scholar at 16. He signed professionally for the club in July 2008 and spent loan spells most notably with Yeovil and Brentford before returning to the Reading squad in February of that season, making his debut for the Royals after replacing an injured Adam Federici in the 84th minute of a game against Watford at Madejski Stadium. 

With Federici ruled out for six weeks due to knee ligament damage, McCarthy stepped up to the mark, making 15 appearances - his first start coming in a 2-1 victory over Millwall in front of our home fans. 

Following further loan stints at Leeds and Ipswich Town, the 
6’ 4” Academy graduate began to establish himself as the Royals' no.1 during our 2012-13 Premier League season. 

Club News

🤔 Quiz | Royals who represented the Three Lions...

17 October 2018

Some outstanding displays including a memorable performance between the posts against Liverpool in April that season, McCarthy deserved a call up to the England squad - becoming the first Reading youth team graduate to gain a full England call-up since the Academy era began in 1998.

However, he had to wait until last night's 3-0 victory over USA to make his Three Lions bow - keeping a clean sheet after coming on at half-time to replace Jordan Pickford.

McCarthy left RG2 for a move to QPR and went on to join Crystal Palace before signing for the Saints in 2016. And he continues to impress at the very highest level of English football. Now, too, our Academy starlet is an England international.

Besides Chalobah and McCarthy, the other eight to represent both Reading an England in the last 20 years were John Salako, Martin Keown, Les Ferdinand, Nicky Shorey, Ryan Bertrand, Matt Upson, Wayne Bridge and Zat Knight.

However, with help from STAR’s Roger Titford and historian Alan Sedunary and the detailed spreadsheets of statistician Nigel Meek, we also managed to unearth 29 more from before the club's move to RG2.

Neil Webb began his career as a very young Reading player of course and alongside lucrative moves to Nottingham Forest and Manchester United he also represented England on 26 occasions, scoring four goals.

Keith Curle and Kerry Dixon are names that the younger generation may still have heard of and goalkeeper Chris Woods was on loan with the club for a short period after his England days, while Roy Bentley certainly earned a place in Reading Football Club folklore.

Add to that list Phil Balch, Johnny Brooks, Ronnie Dix, Edgar Field, Johnny Holt, Albert Read and Herbert Smith and that takes the ‘Royals representing England’ tally to 21.

Then, during games played in the midst of World War II, there are a further 15 to add to the annals. Pat Beasley, Ralph Birkett, Harry Burgess, Sammy Crooks, Arthur Cunliffe, George Eastham Snr, Albert Geldard, Willie Hall, George Hardwick, Harry Johnston, William Jones, Joe Mercer, Les Smith and Frank Swift all represented England in the 30s and 40s and pulled on the Reading shirt at different stages between 1940-1945.

And if you stretch back even further, Edward Haygarth added his name to the list in 1875 and both Bertie Corbett in 1894 and Charles Wollaston likewise in 1879.'s to many more in the future!

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