Reading FC hero Le Fondre can't wait to face Manchester UnitedBy Jonny Fordham
May 29, 2012
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost – Arthur Ashe.
If a quote could sum up modest striker Adam Le Fondre’s season, then that might be it.
It could be argued that Reading’s top scorer single-handedly earned at least 12 points out of the 89 thanks to his crucial goals from the bench.
Watford, Millwall, Leeds United and Southampton all fell by the wayside thanks to the sharp-shooter’s clinical finishing.
Le Fondre would have been well within his rights to bang down Brian McDermott’s door and demand a starting position in the team, but time and time again, the manager has proved he knows best and he knew that role was written in the stars.
“The gaffer had a word with me a few weeks ago and just said I would be the hero and told me to keep going,” recalled the 25-year-old.
“He told me his plan would be to bring me off the bench if we need goals and he knew I would score them.
“I was always adamant I would do that if I was given the chances and the gaffer put that faith in me and I guess I came up trumps.
“It was massive for the gaffer to show that amount of faith in me and tell me I would be a hero like that. It’s an amazing feeling.
“I obviously would have liked to have played more during the season, but I was intent in coming on and scoring to do my bit.
“I think Watford away was a great turning point for us. We were toiling with them at 1-1 and I managed to get that half-chance and score.
“The game after that, at home to Hull City, we had a dodgy decision given against us and they scored an offside goal.
“After that game we brought in Robbo (Jason Roberts) and you can see his ability from a mile off.
"He is first class and the way he has settled and how we have played since he came in has been immense. We were pretty much undefeatable with Robbo.”
With the final Premier League standings still to be decided and a fixture list drawn up, Le Fondre isn’t quite calling himself a top-flight player just yet.
When it is known what day in June the fixtures for next season will be released, the date will be scribbled in every loyal Royals’ diary and the players’ too.
“It’s a bit like soon-to-be. It’s like I’m a Premier League fiancé or something, I’m not quite there yet! It’s still all sinking in,” joked the Stockport-born star.
“It’s been a great experience to play in a team like this and get promoted. I would have liked to have started more, but that’s the way football goes. It’s still been a fantastic season.
“I said when I came here that I could be the top scorer and I’ve always had that belief in myself at every club I’ve been at. Now I want to be the leading scorer next season.
“When the fixture list comes out I’m sure I will get butterflies and if we get a big team I’ll probably do cartwheels!
“The chance to play against the best players in the world will be brilliant. Walking out at Old Trafford will be a fantastic moment for me, my family and everyone that knows me.
“A lot of my family are Manchester United fans, but scoring the winner at the Etihad would be a lot better from my perspective.
"One of my best mates is a Man City fan and he would say some unsavoury things if I did that, but playing at both of those grounds as a Stockport boy would be fantastic.”
The boy done good, as they say. And it was an easy decision to move to Madejski Stadium from the Don Valley stadium in August. Reading parted with £350,000 to convince Rotherham United to sell their star man.
Although that fee will now be inflated with promotion add-ons, Le Fondre’s transfer fee remains a bargain.
The switch from League Two to the Championship was a seamless one for the striker, but he did admit to being apprehensive about his new second-tier team mates.
“I think I actually came here with a pre-conceived perception that the lads would have these big egos because of the jump in divisions, but that was far from it.
“This group is the best I have ever played with. They’re all such great lads and it’s amazing how settled I felt here after a week. Everyone welcomed me and it was just a great experience.
“Part of that comes from the gaffer, but also the guys here themselves. They are just fantastic people. Hunty (Noel Hunt) and Griff (Andy Griffin) went out of their way to make me feel settled and really helped me adapt to things down here.
“Those two took me out, showed me about and I’m really grateful to them for doing that.
“I don’t think being Premier League players will change anyone here either. We’re all similar in character and I wouldn’t have thought things like that would change us.
“We have a huge amount of resilience in this squad and the back five – especially Pearcey (Alex Pearce), Kaspars (Gorkss)and Feds (Adam Federici) – they’ve been absolute rocks for us.
"We defend from the front too, but those guys would walk into every Championship team and have been incredible.
“Their consistency gives us a chance at the other end to really get at other teams.”