Karacan will put his body on the line again for Reading FCBy Jonny Fordham
May 21, 2012
Blood, sweat and tears have flowed freely during during Jem Karacan’s season.
Dedicated. Industrious. And totally committed. Missing out on Reading’s run-in with a broken ankle has been heart-breaking for the talented midfielder.
The 23-year-old lives, breathes, eats and sleeps football. Playing in the Premier League is Karacan’s ultimate dream, alongside earning his first Turkey cap. Right now a return to training can’t come quickly enough.
That key date has been pencilled in for around two months’ time, meaning Karacan will have a race against time to be fully fit for the start of the Premier League season.
“It’s been an up and down season at times personally, but we finished on an ultimate high,” said Karacan who made 37 appearances and scored three goals.
“It’s a great feeling seeing all the boys and the gaffer do this. It’s been amazing.
“It’s killed me that I couldn’t run about with the boys and celebrate. I would be flying about like you couldn’t believe if I could right now. It’s a killer. To walk around and see everyone enjoy it so much is still good.
“There is so much belief in each other. When you look around the changing room you see people who have been there and done it as well. To play with Jason Roberts is a pleasure.
“I grew up watching Mikele (Leigertwood) and Jobi (McAnuff) at Wimbledon and ever since I have just wanted to be like them. Everyone involved deserves their winners medal.”
When Reading first lifted the Championship trophy in 2005/06, Karacan and many of his current team mates such as Alex Pearce, Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church were on the sidelines watching with Eamonn Dolan’s Academy side.
So to get the chance to play a major part in such a fantastic season and follow in the footsteps of his role models was a special moment.
“I cleaned a few of their boots, that’s my claim to fame,” joked Karacan.
“Me, Pearcey (Alex Pearce) and Hal (Robson-Kanu) were speaking about that year the other day and how we were sitting by the dug-out when Murts (Graeme Murty) scored that penalty against QPR and nailed Kingsley.
“Those are amazing memories. I spoke to Murts about it the other day and he told me I had to do that again. I wish I could. It sums this club up that those players are still in touch with all of us.”
Premier League football was not once taken for granted at Madejski Stadium during the two seasons under Steve Coppell.
McDermott, then chief scout at the time, is also not the kind of man who would ever let his players relax now they have made the world’s best league.
Karacan himself craves playing in the top flight so much, that given the choice between going through the agony and devastation of breaking his ankle, he would do it all again.
“My ankle will get better and if someone had said to me with a few games to go that I would have to break my ankle and we would be guaranteed promotion, or we could play the next five games and we might, then I would have smashed my ankle in every day of the week.
“And if I had played the last five games we wouldn’t have won as many as well!”
Recalling the moment when Michael Brown scythed him down at Madejski Stadium during Reading’s 2-0 win against Neil Warnock’s Leeds United on April 7, Karacan relived the emotional and physical hurt.
“Luke (Anthony, the physio) ran on the pitch and said to me ‘Look, come on, up you get’.
“He’s run more miles than me this season by running on to see to me.
“He helped me up, I put my weight on it and just collapsed. I knew there and then that it wasn’t good.
“I then went to hospital with Bobby Wilkinson (the assistant kit man) and we were having a laugh and were saying to the doc that I would be back next week.
“Then the doc came in and told me I’d broken my ankle and I just broke down in tears, so did Bobby. It was my first bad injury.
“But I’ve been on the side screaming my heart out and loved watching every minute of it.”