Goalkeeper Rafael – who joined the Royals last summer – has quickly made Reading his home. Some outstanding performances by the Brazilian earned him the Player of the Season award, as voted for by the fans… and it’s clear that he has adapted quickly to life in Berkshire.
Despite the frustrations of not being able to sustain a challenge for the upper reaches this year, the stopper has been pleased with the way that the club and his squad-mates have made it an easy transition to these shores.
“I’m very happy – I want to say thank you to our fans, because they chose me,” said Rafael. “But I’m not feeling like the best player of the season because many, many times my teammates helped me!
“Some games I could help the team because that’s my job, but the other players played very well.
“I am very happy with my first season here; I’m proud. But I will keep working and hopefully next season will be better with results.
“I felt at home when I got here. My teammates helped me a lot. They are really good guys. And when you work with friends, it’s easy! So now I am feeling at home, I am very happy here at the club and my family is happy… hopefully next season will be much better for us because this club has to move on.
“We’ve done a good season, but some games we made mistakes. We lost some games on the details. So in this case, we must improve. We are a little bit frustrated because we could be better. We have a lot of quality and in many games we could be better.
“But for me, being without fans, it is very different. They are behind me and if you see our results, after lockdown, they weren’t good enough. I think our team plays better when the stadium is full and when we have lots of fans. It’s hard for everybody!
“So let’s see. We will enjoy our short holiday and come back strong, come back hungry, work a lot and work hard.
“The season is over now, but I’m already thinking about next season – because I want to do big things here.
“Pre-season will be very important. If we have a good pre-season, our start of next season will be better. So we must be ready. Let’s work, let’s believe and hopefully we can do well with our fans in our stadium.”