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In conversation with Uwe Hartenberger

Uwe HartenbergerIn the first of a new series for the Former Players' Association, German Reading fan Marco Bader enjoyed a conversation with Royals' former striker Uwe Hartenberger, who joined the club in 1993 and stayed for two seasons.

Thanks to Marco, 33, and the Reading FC Media department we can bring you a rare look at Uwe's time at the club and his career since. Uwe moved to Reading through contacts manager Mark McGhee had built up, playing for Hamburg. The big German striker had scored 75 goals in 100 German League games.

He became an instant hit at Elm Park, scoring on his debut at Swansea after coming on as substitute.

The pacey striker quickly became a favourite with fans and had a distinct ‘airplane’ goal celebration. But due to the great form of Jimmy Quinn and strike partner Stuart Lovell, Uve played the full 90 minutes in just two of his 29 games and in 1995 he returned to Germany. His Royals record reads; played 29, scoring five goals.

Uwe Hartenberger On signing for Reading, Uwe said:
“A player’s agent informed me about the interest of Reading. At that moment I only knew that Reading were an English team and playing in the third highest division over here. When the negotiations progressed, I informed myself better about the club and later signed a contract for two years.”

On life in a new country:
“At the beginning it was difficult, because of the language. I only had a few years of learning English from school. But that improved quite fast. The players and staff were all helpful, especially Mark McGhee thanks to his season in Germany with Hamburger SV. Dylan Kerr is also one to name.I lived the first four months in a hotel, linked door on door, with him. That made the integration easier. Later on I had a beautiful flat in Wallingford, where I felt really at home. “And of course there was time for the night life in Reading’s town centre. I don’t remember concrete names, but I can tell you that English and German people love beer in the same way! I always enjoyed going out with players like Dylan (Kerr), Ady(Williams) and all the others."

On his relationship with fans:
“The player-fan relation was something special and different to what I knew from Germany. It was much closer and friendlier. I think that might also be the reason that the supporters have been so loyal even when we had some bad results. The atmosphere was always special. I still remember very well the “Uwe! Uwe! Uwe!” shouts. Amazing! I always had a good relationship with the fans and I think they also appreciated and liked my way of playing."

On his most special goal:
“I think I would choose directly my first one. I had just signed for Reading. Saturday morning, the day of our away match against Swansea, I received the ‘ok’ to be eligible to play. I came on as a sub and five minutes later I scored the equaliser for our 1-1 draw. A perfect start! It couldn’t have gone any better.”

On his teammates:
“In my opinion we had an extremely good squad. Some of the players have been the best I’ve ever played with. Ady Williams, Dariusz Wdowczyk, Michael Gilkes - he was so fast! And definitely Jimmy Quinn! I'd never played with someone whose headers where so strong and precise. If I had been the manager I would have also played Quinn instead of Hartenberger! The competition was definitely very high. That was sometimes frustrating but I had to accept it. And in some ways, I could also understand it. We played very successful and good football. There was no need for change. Having players like Quinn and (Stuart) Lovell ahead of you was difficult, because they always performed so well and never got injured."

Uwe Hartenberger On his memories of that day at Wembley:
“Best and worst day in the same moment. The place was absolutely buzzing. To enter Wembley and see more than 30,000 Reading supporters in blue and white was unbelievable! I got goose pimples! It was frustrating to not be able to play but the worst thing of course was the result and the way it happened. We were so close. It was very, very unfortunate. In the end we had so many players injured or with cramp on the pitch, that they could just run over us. A very big highlight of my career, but sadly with the wrong ending.”

On friendships during the two years:
“I had a friendly relation to nearly all of my teammates. There’s not a single one I could name in a negative way. Dylan Kerr, Ady Williams, Jeff Hopkins, Phil Parkinson, Michael Gilkes... absolutely great guys. But with time going on, it’s difficult to stay in contact. The first years after I left, I visited Reading in my holidays. I could see how the new stadium was being built. It’s very impressive what Sir John Madejski developed. It would be great to see some of these familiar faces again some day. I really enjoyed the time. The two years helped me to develop a lot as a player and as a person. Within the squad we always had fun. There were also jokes about me being German, but always in a funny and friendly way. And of course I could counter with other jokes!”

09 February 2015

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