DAVID SMITH - Monday, May 18, 2009
Days after seeing a return trip to the English Premier League evaporate though a home loss in the second leg of their playoff semifinal against Burnley, Reading FC announced they choose to release long-time starting goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
"We knew it was a possibility, but still it's a little bit shocking," Hahnemann told YA. "As you know, the season finished on a sort of sour note and my wife and me were talking before about different scenarios that could happen, and this was one that we discussed."
The Seattle native's release was one of a number of significant changes at the Berkshire club in the days following their bitter playoff defeat, beginning with the resignation of long-time coach Steve Coppell, and the announcement of several player cuts soon following.
Reading got off to a blazing start to their league campaign, however a slump in 2009 which only saw them win six of their 20 games in the new year left them resigned to unsuccessfully try to fight their way through the playoffs, ultimately contributing to the team's summer overhaul.
"I think there were a lot of different factors," the eight-year Royal veteran explains. "Graeme Murty, who is our club captain and had been at the club for over 10 years, didn't have his contract renewed either."
"It's tough sometimes," he adds. "The club was obviously trying to recoup some costs and cut wages, and the players that were out of contract were the first ones to take the hit."
During his long tenure with the club, Hahnemann became one of the club's most recognizable players, being known for his good relationship with the team's fans, however he regrets that the sudden departure did not afford him the chance for a proper farewell to those who supported him and his teammates over the years.
"Obviously from day one when I was even on loan in the 2001 season, the fans have been great to me," the 2006 World Cup roster selection reflects. "I'm a little disappointed that I didn't know it was going to be my last game until afterward."
"It would have been nice to know beforehand and to have a chance to say goodbye to everybody, but it's like all of a sudden you come in and that's it."
Despite the largely abrupt departure, Hahnemann does look back fondly on his years in Reading, hoping that his stay in the area his family grew to call home doesn't end, even if his immediate career future is with a different organization.
"I've been at Reading now for seven years. We really made Reading our home and the majority of the games I've played were here, so it was overall pretty good."
"Right now the first thing we want to do is stay as close as possible to our house so that we can continue to live here," he affirms. "We love it here, everything has been absolutely fantastic."
"After that we will start widening our search. We're going to look at every possibility."
The "promotion" of his former USL club Seattle Sounders to MLS plus the addition of clubs in both nearby Portland and Vancouver to the league in 2011 give Hahnemann a trio of future options to come back to the area where he grew up and formed his career, however he still feels his immediate calling is on the eastern side of the Atlantic ocean, where he has spent the last decade.
"I think I want to stay in England for another year at least," he confirms.
"That's always been the ultimate goal, but I'm still not ruling out coming back to MLS either."