Ex-Middlesbrough academy graduate Patrick Reading talks about his time on Teeside

Scotland youth international, Patrick Reading is only at the start of his career but already he has experienced the high’s and low’s that professional footballers seem to face. From being selected to train with Middlesbrough’s first team, before finally making an appearance in a friendly as well as being selected for Scotland’s under-21’s then moving to Stevenage within the space of a year.

How much pressure did you feel when you first got called up to Middlesbrough’s first team?

When I was at Middlesbrough, although I didn’t make a competitive appearance, I was with the first team quite a lot, especially in the last year. I made three appearances in the last pre-season, starting in two of them. With it being a friendly, the crowd there wasn’t as large as usual so there wasn’t as much pressure as there’d normally be but obviously playing my first game with senior pro’s I wanted to be able to impress and lay down a marker. So the pressure came more from myself rather than coaches or fans and I think I coped quite well with it.

How did it feel when you first got called up to Scotland’s youth setup?

Getting my first call-up for Scotland was such a proud moment and I was absolutely buzzing, and every call-up since still  gets me excited. I was on standby for the squad in the previous set of games which was a bit of a surprise and when I eventually got the call-up to the actual under-21 squad it was a really happy moment for me and my family.

When you left Middlesbrough for Stevenage how did it feel?

There were a lot of mixed emotions when I left Middlesbrough because I had been at Middlesbrough since I was 11 I think. So to say bye to all the players and staff who I’d known for so long was really sad. However, there was also excitement with the prospect of moving to a completely new place and where I’d be going into a first team environment rather than being between the first team and the under-23 squad like at Middlesbrough.

How different has your experience been with Stevenage in comparison to Middlesbrough and why?

As I say, I’m solely in a first team environment now so I’m constantly playing with very experienced players who are fighting to be in the match day squad every week. With the team struggling in the league everyone has to be on it every training session and there’s no place to hide. I went from playing with Middlesbrough’s u23 to now having to work extra hard to be in the squad. So it’s tough if you miss out on the squad because you just want to be in playing but it gives you more motivation to work harder to get in the team.

What are your objectives for your future in football?

The main goal is to be able to have had a good consistent playing career, playing at the highest level I’m capable of and making enough of a living to be comfortable.

Who was the best player you’ve played against so far and why?

I’ve played against some very good players, some who are currently playing at the top level right now. The best player is hard to say. In training I would have to say either Stewart Downing or Adama Traore. Traore for his physicality but Downing because of how clever he is. He’s got a good left foot but he’s also very good with his right too, so it can be hard to tell which way he’ll go when defending against him. The best player I’ve played in an actual game would probably be Phil Foden. Again because he’s so clever with everything he does and the control he has of the ball is amazing. Can definitely see him becoming one of the best players in England.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far  throughout your career so far?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt so far in football is that you can’t take anything for granted because things can change so fast. There’s so many ups and downs. You can’t get carried away when things are going well for you, you also have to stay positive when things aren’t going your way because as I say it can all change very quickly.

Who has had the most important influence on where you are today and where you aspire to be?

I don’t really ever think about who my main influence is or who I aspire to be like but there’s players like George Friend and Jonny Howson; both really nice people and both have played consistently at a top level for the majority of their careers. That’s something I’d like to replicate. There’s also players like Jamie Vardy and Lewis Wing who have had to rise up through non-league football which I think is inspiring for any footballer who’s trying to make it big in the game.