VITO MANNONE says “now I’ve got two angels above me” following the death of his mother last month.
The Italian missed Reading’s trip to Bolton in November, returning home to visit his mother in hospital after she suffered a stroke.
But he returned to play for the Royals as she battled for her life before passing away a week before Christmas.
“It was a sad time and a tough one in my career as obviously my mum was an important part of my life as I lost my dad very early,” said Mannone.
“To lose a member of the family and an important one as my mum has been very tough.
“It’s been tough to play games knowing she was in the hospital. It’s been tough but it’s been a learning curve.
“Every part of my life has been a learning curve and an experience, either good or bad and I transfer this into football.
“Life teaches you to get up and carry on because you want to make everyone proud.
“That’s my force so now I’ve got two angels above me, that’s what I think.
“They really wanted me to succeed in foootball.”
He added: “I want to thank everyone at the club, the gaffer who gave me time to go back home when I needed to and the support I got from the players, the staff and each member of the club.
“And especially a big thanks to the fans, who on social media gave me a lot of courage and comfort.
“They always drive me forward.
“My family travel during the Christmas period and I was feeling very lucky they could travel and support me with the games and the difficult period.
“It was a period where my mum used to travel to England to watch me play during Christmas and it was a nice time to be united.
“Luckily enough I had a lot of love and support so I can carry on with my job.
“It’s been tough for me but I’m still standing, I’m fighting every day and I’m fighting for my job.”