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New Malden’s role in Reading’s success

Seol Ki-hyeon celebrates his goal for Reading against Milwall, July 2006

From the FT on 13 October

Seol Ki-hyeonReading fly high on the wings of Seol

By Jonathan Wilson

As explanations for a good start to the season go, the fact that your ground is less than an hour’s drive from New Malden rarely features.

There can be little doubt, though, that the main reason Reading approach Saturday afternoon’s game against Chelsea sitting a happy seventh in the table is the form of Seol Ki-Hyeon, and the winger has made it clear that his adjustment to life in the Premiership has been helped by the large South Korean community in south-west London.

“You can get whatever you need for cooking there,” he said. “If I go for a haircut they don’t charge me, or if I order a meal in a restaurant they will bring three or four and not make me pay.

“The most important thing, though, is that they support me.”

When Reading spent £1.5m of their £1.85m summer budget on bringing Seol from Wolves, it is fair to say that eyebrows were raised.

He had shown the occasional flicker of quality at Molineux, but he never quite caught fire, and he seemed an odd choice as the central thrust of a tilt at the Premiership. So far, though, he has been exceptional: a tally of two goals and two assists in seven games fails to give the full indication of quite how crucial he has been.

It is not just that Reading suits him — he suits Reading. When he thrashed a 22-yard drive into the top corner against West Ham, his reaction was to jog back to his own half, one arm raised and nodding to himself.

It was all admirably understated, as befits a side whose whole ethos seems to be based around neatness and quiet over-achievement.

Lee Young-pyoPark Ji-sungSeol is one of three Korean players in the English premiership, the other two being Lee Young-Pyo (Spurs – left) and of course Park Ji-sung (Man Utd – right). How long before Chelsea buys Korean?

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