They both joined the club at the age of eight. And last month, soon after their 20th birthdays, Tom McIntyre and Gabriel Osho were both handed their very first senior appearances for the Royals’ senior team, taking our number of Academy graduates to represent Reading up to 49.
And to mark their inaugural first-team appearances, Tom and Gabe were presented with framed versions of their debut shirts at Hogwood Park, in the presence of Academy Manager Ged Roddy, CEO Nigel Howe, their teammates and Academy staff.
McIntyre’s debut came on a wet and windy day in Rotherham, and despite taking an early blow to the head – which has since required surgery – Tom battled on willingly and heartily for the full 90 minutes.
Exactly one week later, Osho stepped up to the starting XI as we welcomed Middlesbrough to Madejski Stadium and put in a performance which showed maturity beyond his years.
Two centre-halves who have been teammates since their primary school days, each creating their own place in the history books of Reading FC. And there is more to come.
Ged Roddy said: “This is what it’s all about – it’s why we come here every day, and why the Academy exists. To give these boys the best opportunity to get out there and wear the shirt; not just once, but many times. The shirt represents everything that this club is about.
Nigel Howe added: “Congratulations to the two lads getting their shirts presented; both of them I have watched playing here since the age of eight. It goes to show that with good coaching and a good environment, you can make it. You have to have the talent, but if we can help them develop, it is achievable.”
Watch the video of the two boys receiving their shirts above.