EAMONN DOLAN, Reading’s academy manager, has tragically lost his battle with cancer aged 48.
Dolan, who joined Reading in 2004, presided over a hugely-successful 12-year golden era for the club’s academy, helping to bring as many as 32 players into the first team including the likes of Shane Long, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jem Karacan.
He took time away from the game last year to have a tumour removed from his bladder and undergo a course of chemotherapy with former managers and players showing their support for his recovery, as well as a public display from Reading fans with a minute’s applause as part of the #21forDolan campaign.
Before his spell in coaching, Irish-born Dolan enjoyed a playing career at West Ham United, Bristol City, Birmingham City and Exeter City but was forced to quit playing when first being diagnosed with cancer in 1993.
He moved into coaching with Exeter before moving to work with the Royals academy and also took charge of a Reading first team game in 2013 as caretaker, a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, following the sacking of Brian McDermott.
A year later he played a key role in Royals Under-21s side winning the Premier League U21 cup.
A statement from Reading insisted Dolan’s work with the academy leaves an ongoing legacy.
“His energy for football was infectious,” it read.
“His enthusiasm for the sport we all love was evident in every compelling word he uttered.
“The level of pride he had in his work was enviable.
“And each young player who Eamonn carefully nurtured through our academy ranks and into professional football will today stand tall as testament to one great man’s total dedication and unassuming but single-minded commitment to the job.
“Eamonn led by shining example.”
Dolan’s family also released a brief statement, saying: “No words or feelings can express our loss.
“We are honoured to have had such an incredible person to have loved, and been loved by, in our lives – if for too short a time.
“We would like to thank Reading FC and all the fans for the support, gifts, cards, letters and messages that were received by Eamonn during his illness.
“It has been a testament to the way he lived his life – positively, professionally, profoundly helping and touching other people.
“He was proud to serve this great club.”
The club have opened a book of condolence in honour of Dolan, with supporters invited to visit the main reception of Madejski Stadium to leave their personal messages of thanks.
The book is open now and will remain so until the beginning of the 2016/17 season.