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Former Reading FC player Paul Canoville recounts his remarkable story to Royals supporters

Former winger suffered a horrific knee injury which curtailed his playing career and has survived three bouts of cancer.

Paul Canoville 

In the latest of the FPA’s successful and popular ‘An Evening with…’ series of events, more than 70 Reading FC supporters, including former manager Ian Branfoot, turned out to hear the remarkable story of former player turned motivational speaker Paul Canoville. The 53-year-old had the audience gripped throughout his talk at the Irish Centre in Chatham Street, Reading.

Canoville spoke of his footballing career, primarily at Chelsea, during which he suffered horrendous racial abuse, and then at Reading where a horrific knee injury meant he had to, ultimately, hang up his boots.

He started out playing for non-league Hillingdon Borough, before signing for Chelsea in December 1981. After making 103 appearances at Stamford Bridge he moved to Reading in August 1986 for £50,000.

He had a bright start to his time at Reading, scoring and creating several goals, but suffered a dislocated knee, a torn cartilage and a rupture to his cruciate ligament in a tackle by Sunderland's Dave Swindlehurst on October 1986, three months into his debut season. This effectively ended his professional career at the age of 24. After a failed comeback, he moved down to non-league football, making appearances for Enfield, Maidenhead United and Burnham, before retiring.

He went on to explain how he took drugs, survived cancer three times, and became a teaching assistant to help inspire schoolchildren to deal with bullying and racism issues. Canoville has also written a highly acclaimed and award winning book - Black and Blue - and set up a foundation - Motivate to Change, aimed at inspiring people to pursue their dreams and goals.

Paul Canoville
Canoville alongside Ian Branfoot

Branfoot (pictured alongside Canoville), was the manager that signed Paul for Reading in 1981, said of Canoville, “He was a player of such great ability and, at only 24, showed great potential and could have gone further in the game, probably to international level ”

The night was sponsored by Getreading and ITM Limited.

Chairman Richard Wickson said: "We would like to thank getreading for sponsoring the event, and for Paul for coming along to talk and share his remarkable story. If everyone thinks that being a footballer is all money, woman and fast cars, Paul's story will make them think again.”

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27 March 2015

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