Reading: Defender Chris Gunter knows what is at stake in play-off final

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Gunter honoured to lead Royals at Wembley

Wales defender Chris Gunter knows exactly what will be at stake when he leads out Reading at Wembley in the Championships play-off final.

"It would be nice to wake up on Monday morning a Championship player and wake up on Tuesday morning a Premier League player," said Gunter.

That dream could become his reality at Wembley against Huddersfield on Monday, 29 May in what is widely considered to be English football's most lucrative contest.

Money talks

The Wembley occasion is among the most financially valuable in world football because the prize is a place at the Premier League top table.

Victory on Monday would result in a guaranteed £170m in TV revenue with almost £300m being predicted as a windfall should the winner extend their stay in the top flight beyond a single season.

Gunter however, says the players can't worry about that.

"That's the one thing we don't and can't feel," said Gunter.

"That sort of money goes to the club. If the players were seeing £200m then we would feel it!

"If you start to let your mind wonder about the rewards or the consequences in terms of the result you are not in the best situation to win the game.

"It's for everyone else to enjoy the build-up to Wembley but we have a job to do and deliver on the pitch.

"You try and park everything else. If you get caught up in everything around it, the game will pass you by."

Chris Gunter
Chris Gunter has made 56 appearances this season for club and country

All or nothing

Gunter knows enough rests on this match even without the financial incentives.

"It's all or nothing," said Gunter after a season when the Royals finished third in the Championship.

"It has been 11 months of hard work and 48 games to get to this position.

"These type of games can change people's lives around the club and the training ground.

"It's a whole year's work to get in this situation and this result determines the whole of next season. So (it is) two years into one game."

Personal pride

Gunter, who played in the Premier League before with the Royals and at previous club Tottenham, will have the honour of leading out Reading with club captain Paul McShane suspended after being sent off in the play-off semi-final match against Fulham.

"It will mean a lot," said Gunter.

"It is a nice thing and come Monday to do that in such a big game will mean a lot especially for your family and friends to see that because at that stage you will be in such a zone.

"Hopefully you will look back and think that was a good day."

Chris Gunter
Chris Gunter played in every minute of Wales' Euro 2016 campaign

Euro 2016 comparisons

Gunter has won 78 caps for Wales but admitted the occasion will be difficult to compare with his international experiences after the full-back played an integral part in the run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals last summer.

"I don't think you can compare it to the Euros," said Gunter.

"I know what that tournament meant to people in Wales and to our squad, to see their country on a major stage for the first time in people's lifetime.

"They are two different situations. But in terms of club football of course it's the biggest game I've played in.

"The feeling for a Championship player at the final whistle of this game on Monday will be unique."

Jaap Stam
Jaap Stam made 67 appearances for the Netherlands

Reading underdogs

Not many people tipped Reading for promotion this season with former Manchester United and Holland defender Jaap Stam taking over at the start of the season.

There has also been a protracted takeover which has been completed by Chinese siblings Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li.

"So much has changed at the club over the last couple of years," said Gunter.

"There has been a lot more than football going on with a change of owners while managers have come and gone on a regular basis.

"Nobody would have said Reading would have a chance of promotion. Even in the last couple of weeks nobody has taken much notice of us.

"It's good in a way but at times it can be frustrating because when you do well you want a little bit of attention.

"We have been written off many times this year but we have worked hard and always believed in what we have done."

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