Reading FC 'home from home' for Stephen KellyBy Jonny Fordham
January 24, 2013
Knowing so many of the Reading squad past and present has helped Stephen Kelly settle seamlessly into life at Madejski Stadium.
Kelly, signed for £1.2million from Fulham less than two weeks ago, made his debut in the 2-1 win at Newcastle United last Saturday.
The 29-year-old had a faultless first performance for Brian McDermott’s side and believes his familiarity with the squad has been a huge bonus during the bedding-in process.
“As soon as I signed (the likes of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long) were calling and texting to wish me luck,” revealed the rightback
“There were a few jokes flying around with all the people here.
“When I was first in the Irish team I actually roomed with Ian Harte – that was a long time ago.
“I know Nicky Shorey well from playing with him at Fulham as well as Pavel Pogrebnyak.
“There’s also Jay Tabb, we were in the under-21s together and Alex Pearce has been in the Irish squad so there are a lot of familiar faces.
“That makes it so much easier to come in.
“And of course I’ve also played with people the guys here have played with.
“Everyone has been so welcoming so I feel like I have been here a couple of months already – it’s been brilliant.
“All of that makes it easier on the pitch as well because you know people’s strengths, you know how they work.
“I have been keeping an eye on Reading since this transfer was on the cards and I have just been watching them and seeing what is required so for me.”
A few chances meetings with boss McDermott also helped sway Kelly’s decision.
The pair first met at Doyle’s wedding a few summers ago before bumping into each other at the end of last year on a flight to Dublin.
“You can see his enthusiasm about the place,” said Kelly.
“He has got really high hopes for the club and what he expects of his players is exactly what I would expect of my players. For me it was a no-brainer.
“I get on very well with him. Whenever we have met he has been really easy to speak to and we have similar philosophies about how we want to play football.
“So for me its a great opportunity to work with him.” With a glowing reference like that, it comes as no surprise at just how influential McDermott was in landing the Republic of Ireland international who played 34 times for the Cottagers last season.
Kelly added: “Speaking to Brian persuaded me to come. I had a great time at Fulham, there were some really good times at the club, really memorable occasions, getting to a European final and stuff like that.
“But you get to a situation where game time had been limited this season and I just wanted to play regular first team football and hopefully I will be given the opportunity to do that here.
“That’s why I made the decision.”