Date of birth
Reading-born defender Neil Clement began his footballing career with Chelsea. Having progressed through their youth system, he made his professional debut for the Blues on 21st December 1996 in a 3-1 league victory over West Ham.
Only appearing for Chelsea in the League Cup after that, Clement joined Reading on loan in November 1998, making his last appearance for Gianluca Vialli’s Blues in their 5-0 cup win at Arsenal.
Making his debut for the Royals away to Northampton, the defender scored his first professional goal in our following home fixture where Lincoln City came to visit.
Opening the scoring for Reading that afternoon, a late strike from Mass Sarr sealed the deal as the Royals left with all three points, taking our tally to 29 for that stage of Madejski Stadium’s inaugural season.
Clement made 12 appearances in total for Reading, all starts, before leaving in February to join Preston North End for the remainder of the season.
On transfer deadline day in March 2000, he left Chelsea for West Brom on loan, making the deal permanent that summer.
A Baggie for ten years, Clement’s feats include making it to a semi and play-off final, two promotions to the Premier League as a runner-up, and an FA Cup semi-final and Championship winner’s medal in the same season – all spanning over 275(+26) appearances.
After suffering a serious knee injury during a pre-season friendly against Real Mallorca in 2008 and not being able to recover, Clement made the decision to retire from the game two years later in January 2010, at the age of 31.