ANDY Rinomhota is determined to nail down a regular place in the Reading FC first-team after impressing on his full league debut in the English Championship football side’s 3-2 win over Bristol City recently.
BY DANIEL NHAKANSIO
The 21-year-old England-born Zimbabwean midfielder’s eye-catching display was one of the highlights of a much-needed victory for under-pressure boss Paul Clement before going on to star in a 2-2 draw against Ipswich.
Born in Leeds, England, to a Zimbabwean father and British mother, Rinomhota is reportedly keen to pursue an international career with Zimbabwe.
His man-of-the-match performance against Bristol earned him a rousing ovation from the Reading supporters when he made way for Royals teammate John Swift 12 minutes before the end.
“I was happy how it went and getting three points was the main thing,” Rinomhota told Reading’s official website after the match.
“I was pleased with my performance and it was a shame I couldn’t finish the game, but fatigue set in.
“It was great to get my first league start. I kind of knew in training because my name was in the starting team. I was thrilled and I knew I had to make an impact in order to keep my place. Hopefully I’ve done that.”
Rinomhota has now made seven league and cup appearances for Royals in all competitions, having been brought into the senior squad by former Reading boss Jaap Stam.
His progress was initially hampered by a serious hamstring injury, but he has since forced his way back into Clement’s first-team plans.
Now the future looks bright for the Leeds-born midfielder, who joined Reading’s Academy ranks from non-league AFC Portchester in 2015.
“I was introduced to the first team more than a season ago and I was involved under the old manager,” stated Rinomhota, who penned a new three-and-a-half year deal last December.
“Unfortunately I had an injury which set me back, but I’m back involved again and delighted to get my first league start.
“Reading has always been a good club for bringing youth through, with players like Liam Kelly and myself. There is always a fight for places so I don’t know if I will play every week, but hopefully there will be many more appearances to come.”
He added: “I don’t normally play in front of that many fans as my last game was for the Under-23s.
“They gave me a really nice reception when I went off so I can’t thank them enough for that.
“The fans were loud and backed us throughout the game. Players are always fighting together and there is good unity in the squad.”
Clement hailed the youngster’s performance against Bristol City saying: “I thought he played really well. He’s had to be patient. He’s a fantastic professional and boy. Every day he’s really committed to learning and giving his best. He’s a credit to the club, the Academy and his family.”
He continued: “I know when he came on in his other appearances he didn’t have any family there. They were short appearances, so he was surprised.
“But his mum and dad were there on Saturday and he got a nice ovation when he went off which was thoroughly deserved.”
Rinomhota is one of several England-based players who are being pursued by Zimbabwe as part of their initiative to tap into talent emerging from among the diaspora community.
He was included in the Warriors provisional squad for the 2018 Cosafa Cup held in South Africa in June, but was eventually omitted from the final squad as he is yet to acquire a Zimbabwean passport.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare told The Sports Hub recently that Rinomhota had already expressed interest to represent Zimbabwe and they were still in the process of securing his passport.