Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Shane Long completed his return to Reading on Wednesday.
Full Circle

'A football fairytale' - Shane Long returns to Reading

The Irishman signs on a one-year deal.

SHANE LONG HAS returned to Reading, signing for the Championship outfit on a one-year deal.

The move was widely expected following his Southampton exit earlier this month, teased by the Royals on social media earlier today and confirmed this afternoon.

A free agent, the Irishman joins after eight years, 245 appearances and 37 goals at the Saints.

Long, 35, previously spent seven seasons at Reading, who were his first English club after moving from Cork City in 2005. He signed aged 18, alongside Kevin Doyle.

17 years on, the Tipperary native will link up with his new team-mates, including Jeff Hendrick, to train at Bearwood Park for the first time tomorrow morning.

“The arrival of Shane is something of a football fairytale for Reading fans,” Reading boss Paul Ince said.

But make no mistake about it – he is coming into the dressing room purely on the merits of what he can offer this squad out on the pitch. Experience, energy, leadership, desire and a natural instinct you need to score goals. Shane will be an important addition to the group we are patiently trying to build and grow.”

Head of Football Operations Paul Bowen added: “When he first arrived at this club, very few fans will have known anything about Shane Long.

“But now, he needs absolutely no introduction to Royals supporters. A return to the club where it all began for Shane has been rumoured for a number of years, so I am delighted to have made that rumour a reality.”

Reading paid tribute to their new signing with a heartfelt trip down memory lane, recounting his first spell at the club in detail, adding: “Welcome home, Shane!”

Long previously experienced it all at the club — promotion, relegation and everything in between — scoring 54 goals in 203 appearances until 2011 when he joined West Brom. He subsequently had a stint with Hull before joining the Saints.

Scorer of the Premier League’s fastest-ever goal, Long has also won 88 caps for Ireland; the most recent coming against Qatar last year, while he has 17 international goals to his name.

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