The 35-year-old first arrived at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in the summer of 2005 along with Kevin Doyle, with both strikers going on to be incredibly successful in Berkshire.
Doyle was particularly useful during the record-breaking 2005/06 season as well as their campaigns in the Premier League, with Long making his impact at a later stage than that with the former Southampton man joining the club when he was 18.
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Despite his age, he was able to make a decent impact straight away before firmly establishing himself as one of the Royals’ most important players following their relegation from the Premier League in 2008.
The forward enjoyed his most fruitful campaign with the second-tier outfit during the 2010/11 season, scoring 23 goals and recording 13 assists in 47 league games as he guided Brian McDermott’s men to the play-off final.
Following their failure to win promotion, he was sold to West Bromwich Albion, going on to play in the top flight with the Baggies, Hull City and the Saints whilst also enjoying a reasonably successful international career.
After being released by the latter this summer, Long has decided to link up with his old side on a one-year deal as he looks to challenge the likes of Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite for a starting spot up front.
And former strike partner Hunt, who played with his fellow Irishman between 2008 and 2011, expressed his delight about this move materialising.
Taking to Twitter, he posted: “The boy looks a million dollars! What a great day this is!”
The boy looks a million dollars!! What a great day this is!! 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙 https://t.co/1SJQ1Ik3bQ
— Noel Hunt 🌐 (@Noelhunt20) July 13, 2022
This signing is just as good for off-field matters as it is for on-field reasons – because it has given the Royals’ fanbase a real boost ahead of what could be quite a tough season considering their restrictions.
On the field though, he could be a valuable contributor in an area where they certainly needed another player, especially considering Lucas Joao’s injury record and George Puscas’ uncertain future.
If the latter goes, another forward on top of Long will need to come in to provide a sufficient amount of depth, unless Meite is only being used as a striker and not as a winger.
Even then, it would be good to have an extra goalscorer considering how leaky the Berkshire side’s defence was last season, having the joint worst record in the division in terms of goals conceded.
Long hasn’t been the most prolific scorer in recent years but after taking a step down to the second tier, he could find himself getting more opportunities to get in and amongst the goals once again.