Former Reading FC defender Andy Griffin stated that conceding a penalty in the 2011 Championship play-off final was “the lowest moment of my whole career.”

Griffin joined the Royals, initially on loan, in January 2010 and went on to play almost 100 times across two and a half seasons.

Speaking exclusively to the Reading Chronicle, the former Stoke City and Newcastle United full-back said that he could not believe the quality of the squad when he arrived.

“I was at Stoke City and had a falling out with Tony Pulis. Reading had come in for me under Brendan Rodgers but I declined as I wanted to give it another go at Stoke, but I soon realised that it wasn’t going to happen and before you know it six months of the season had gone."

"Brian came in for me and I agreed to go down and chat to him. I remember watching them against Liverpool in the FA Cup, Brynjar [Gunnarsson] was playing right-back, he nutmegged someone and [Shane] Long scored. Gylfi [Sigurdsson] scored a penalty and they won, and I thought ‘why would you need me’. Brian brought me in, and it was a chance to get back out there and start playing.

“Turning up in the relegation zone you think you’re walking into an environment which is feeling sorry for itself and struggling, but that wasn’t the case. Brian was starting to play [Matt] Mills and Long, and we played more direct football than Brendan was playing, and it suited the players. It almost felt as it wasn’t a case of whether we going to win, it was how many we were going to score- we felt invincible. It almost happened overnight. Everyone got on well with each other. It was a great dressing room and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It saw us almost go from the relegation zone to the play-offs and we had a very strong end to the season. The play-offs was just a bit out of our reach. “

Signing permanently over the summer, Griffin played almost 40 times as McDermott lead the Royals to another FA Cup quarter-final and the Championship play-offs.

Griffin continued: “I signed a two-year deal. It was a great dressing room, and I was coming back to a football club to get promoted.

“It had all the makings of a Championship winning team, I wasn’t just coming to see out my playing days, I believed we could win promotion.

“We had an excellent team, and it was a matter of time. If we lost a game or two it certainly didn’t feel sorry for itself, it always had belief and balance.

“Second half of the season we strung lots of wins together which saw us end up in the play-offs.

“We played them [Cardiff City in the play-offs] at home and drew, went down to Cardiff and Craig Bellamy was injured, which gave us a psychological boost. Long got the first goal, we make it 2-0 and Jobi [McAnuff] finishes it off with a solo goal.

“When that goal went in we knew the tie was over and that was a great feeling because you knew you were going to Wembley.”

The final pitted the side against Rodgers’ Swansea City, a team which had got the better of Reading in both of the normal league games.

The first half was a horror-show, with Reading 0-3 down at half-time.

Griffin explains: “There wasn’t much in the two teams, but they played very different styles and added spice with Brendan managing Swansea.

“I knew I was going to have my hands full with Scott Sinclair but if you can’t get up for games like that, you’re in the wrong industry.

“It only takes five seconds to score a goal. We found ourselves 3-0 down after switching off but we come back second half.

“When you go in at half-time and you look around the dressing room, body language is huge, the manager said we would get chances and whether we could capitalise. It was WHEN we get the next goal, he was telling us we would get the next goal.”

They famously pulled two goals back and hit the post to make it a nervy second period before Griffin fouled Fabio Borini.

He picks up the story, saying: “I then go and give away a penalty. I understand what I was trying to do but it happens very quickly.

“It was an incredibly dark, lonely place but you can’t dwell on it for too long- we put some much energy into getting us back and it knocked the wind out of our sails.

“I don’t look at it and blame myself solely for the defeat in that game as that would be unfair on myself, but I know I contributed to that and it was probably the lowest moment of my whole career because you knew what was at stake, it all came down to the 90 minutes and you’ve made a huge mistake.

“That stayed with me for quite a while until I had a word with myself. Mistakes happen. That was one of the best season’s I had as a professional footballer, so I chose to look at all of the positive impacts and be a lot more positive toward myself and forgive myself.

“It happened and there’s no getting away from it. Those moments can make you or break you.”

The defeat did not linger for long however, with McDermott and his side winning the 2012 Championship title to win promotion to the Premier League after a four- year absence.

After the disappointment of the previous campaign, the former England Under-21 international could hardly contain his pride.

“I’d been very fortunate to be promoted with Stoke and that feeling is incredible, to lose the final in the fashion we did, to then bounce back and win the league tells you it was a team that not only had talent, but it had character.

“To finally get over the finishing line and take a look at my time at Reading, I see a lot of growth for me personally, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the football club.

“There are three clubs that I keep close to my heart, Stoke, Newcastle and Reading.

“The club has been through a few transitions behind the scenes, and it is criminal because the infrastructure and fanbase is exceptional, what really matters is getting three points on a weekend which gets survival.”