Michael Hector: Reading defender 'became a man' with loan spells
Reading centre-back Michael Hector says having loan spells at 11 different clubs in four years "made him a man".
The 22-year-old signed a new three-year deal with the Royals on Monday after a breakthrough Championship season.
His route to the first team included time spent with non-league sides Bracknell, Didcot and Horsham.
"I think men's football is totally different to academy football. It toughens you up and makes you into a man," Hector told BBC Radio Berkshire.
"Obviously the crowds are not as big as they are in the Championship but you're still playing in front of crowds and livelihoods are at stake, so the games mean something.
"You don't get the time on the ball that you get at academy games."
|Ady Williams, ex-Reading captain and BBC Radio Berkshire sports presenter:|
|"It's an important deal for the club. Michael's a big player for Reading, he's getting better and better. It was only a matter of time before the club came calling for a new contract after his performances.|
|"He had loan spells at 11 clubs before making his Reading debut. It just proves that you've got to be patient, you've got to get that experience and you've got to be playing first-team football, regardless of the standard.|
|"There was a lot of talk last season that clubs have been watching him, and I'm not just talking Championship sides - even the likes of Arsenal were rumoured."|
Hector's 11 loan moves all happened between 2009 and 2013, as he also turned out for Aldershot, Cheltenham and most recently Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen.
He made his Reading debut in their 7-1 thrashing of Bolton Wanderers in January 2014 and was a regular as they finished 19th in the second tier last season, as well as reaching the last four of the FA Cup.
Hector added: "They took a chance on me when I was at college and I'm grateful for that.
"I've always wanted to play for Reading and it was a no brainer for me to sign as soon as they were interested in giving me another contract."
Hector could make his international debut this summer after being called up by Jamaica for the Copa America.
"The manager might give me a couple days off when I get back, but I think he wants me to come straight back in, which I don't mind.
"If we bring the right players in next season, there's no reason why we shouldn't be pushing for promotion."
Meanwhile, Reading have announced a pre-season tour to Thailand next month.
Steve Clarke's side will take on a Thailand Premier League All-Star team in Bangkok on 8 July.