‘I’ve still got the champagne!’ Former Reading FC striker Nathan Tyson on his England call up

Nathan Tyson playing for Reading in 2003. Photo used with permission: Coventry Telegraph.
Nathan Tyson playing for Reading in 2003. Photo used with permission: Coventry Telegraph.

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In February 2003, Reading-born striker Nathan Tyson made his England debut in a 2-1 win over Germany.

The then Reading striker, still playing at the age of 39 with Chesterfield in the Vanarama National League, was called up by the under 20s and manager Les Reed for the friendly that would take place at the home of his club, the Madejski Stadium.

Tyson scored both goals in the game, lining up alongside the likes of Michael Chopra and future Reading midfielder Brian Howard, but that was it. The striker’s international career was over before it really even got started.

As part of Football in Berkshire’s look at Berkshire born footballers who’ve represented the Three Lions, we spoke to the ex-Royals striker about his solitary cap, how it felt and why Reed already knew he’d not be able to keep the forward.

Tyson said: “It was one game, unfortunately, one cap! I was down to go to the UAE with the team but turned 21 in May so didn’t qualify.

“Little bit of a lucky escape maybe as we didn’t do so well in the tournament, I think one of the games we got beaten 10-0,” he adds laughing down the phone.

“The game was the greatest night of my career, an England cap at the home of the team I supported and played for. Plus I got both goals against Germany!”

The Madejski Stadium looking glorious. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

It had been a season building to bigger things under Pardew, Tyson played 23 times in a side that finished fourth in the First Division (now Championship) and the striker certainly felt that at the time: “There were two sides to it, I was and am still proud and honoured to play for my country and do as well as I did in the game. At the time it was the biggest highlight along with making my Reading debut and playing in the Championship. That season ticked all the boxes.

“I was just finding my way around the first team when Alan Pardew left Reading. I was hoping to play a bigger role that season but Steve Coppell took over and had different ideas, I left and moved on to Wycombe Wanderers.

“I was just coming of age at the time, I was in the Team of the Week and the England call up was my reward.”

How did he find out about the call up?: “Kevin Dillon, the coach at Reading told me about it. He told me I’d been called up but I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t comprehend it. That week Pards was telling us the team and I wasn’t in it, he said ‘well you’re on international duty’, and that’s when I knew!

“I’d never thought I was good enough but I couldn’t help but improve in and around a club, playing alongside the likes of John Salako, Ady Williams and strikers Nicky Forster and Jamie Cureton.

Tyson certainly has no regrets and it’s clear he remembers the game fondly: “The call up was a dream come true, I’d had so many set backs, but on the flipside, I wish I had more caps than just the one. But that was what was meant to be, I’ve still got the shirt and the champagne, I’m not sure it’d taste any good now though!”

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