Ex-Reading full-back previews Saturday
Curtis Osano is relishing the propect of doing battle with his old team-mates when Reading visit the Cherry Red Records Stadium tomorrow.
Our new right-back came through The Royals academy system alongside the likes of current Reading first-teamers Simon Church, Jem Karacan, Alex Pearce and Hal Robson-Kanu. Curtis was released in 2008, but he only has fond memories of his time at Reading as he says the club played a crucial part in his development.
"Straight away when I signed here and Terry told me that we had Reading in our first pre-season match, it brought a smile to my face," Curtis said. "I am still friends with some of the boys. I know Simon Church, Alex Pearce, Jem Karacan and Hal Robson-Kanu from when I was there. They are still there now and I speak to them every now and then. It will be good to see what level they are at and try and match up with them.
"I can look at it as a disappointment (being released by Reading), but in a way, it has got me where I am today and I am now playing professional football at AFC Wimbledon. I needed to get first-team games and I went and played non league football. I played a lot of games in the Conference and I learned a lot from that to take into the Football League."
Curtis did get a taste of first-team football at Reading as he made two substitute appearances in the FA Cup after impressing as captain of the reserves team. His progress through the ranks was helped by the guidance of current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who was in charge of The Royals youth set-up before he departed to work for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004. Curtis credits Brendan with a major part of his football development as the Northern Irishman turned him into a right-back.
"I was captain of Reading reserves, but I did not quite manage to get much further," added Curtis. "When I first signed for Reading, Brendan was in charge of the academy. He is a top guy and his passsion and hunger stood out. His attention to detail was very impressive and it was great for young players to see that. He made me the player that I am. When I first went there I was a central midfielder, but Brendan converted me into a right-back. He went over and over things with me and it all clicked straight away for me. Everything went well during my youth development at Reading. I left when I was 18, but that's football and they helped me to develop as a player."
Curtis, who went onto play for Rushden and Diamonds and Luton Town, says he already feels at home at AFC Wimbledon after attending Wednesday's new kit launch. "People at the club have made me feel very welcome and I had fans coming up to me and shaking my hand," he added. "I have never had that before and it is just a nice, warm place to be. Everyone wants to achieve something and I cannot wait for the start of the season now. Since I joined I have been looking forward to my first Wimbledon game and hopefully the first few matches will be a good test of the level we are at. It is an exciting time to be at the club."