Nélson Oliveira has wasted no time whatsoever in becoming a Royals cult hero.
Just 10 days after having his face trampled – requiring surgery for a nose broken in four places – he was back on the pitch again to face Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening, face-mask and all.
And another diligent and classy performance was capped with the game-winning goal, a stunning effort from the edge of the area. Manager José Gomes was glowing with praise for the attitude that his striker has displayed, both during his recovery and when he crossed the white line.
“Nélson deserved it,” Gomes reflected. “He was really brave, considering the injury that he had.
“Everybody saw the condition of his face – and he wanted to play the previous game against Sheffield Wednesday, but the doctors didn’t give him permission.
“So he just trained twice and then played today. He is really a good player. And he is happy in Reading; he feels that the people here like him.
“He is a good player and he has good spirit. He broke his nose in four different places, had an operation, and wanted to play three days later. It’s not easy to find a player like him.
“When you feel that a player is full of motivation, who works to train and to play, you feel his energy and you must give him the chance. The way that he played and his attitude through the game – it was amazing.
“We are feeling proud of his behaviour. He is here to help, and he is helping a lot. And his behaviour gives courage to everyone.”