Reading legend Jem Karacan labelled the club's much-loved Academy 'incredible' when reflecting upon his career with the Reading Chronicle.

The former Galatasaray midfielder rose through the ranks in Berkshire during a golden period for the club, growing up alongside the fabled '106' team under Steve Coppell before playing a key part in the club's second Championship title in 2012.

Breaking through alongside 'mates' such as Alex Pearce and Simon Church, Karacan made nearly 200 appearances for the club before departing in 2015.

Reading's youth system, continuing to produce stars of the present and future, celebrates 25 years this summer- a perfect landmark to reflect upon past successes.

(Image: Chris Forsey)

"Personally, coming through the Academy with the group of lads that I came through with was incredible," Karacan told the Reading Chronicle. "It was obviously driven by the likes of Eamonn [Dolan], who was huge, but even before that in Geoff Warner and Nas Bashir, Martin Kuhl- some top people who were here just before Eamonn and obviously when Eamonn came in and took that over.

"I think you can still continue to see the fruits of Eamonn’s labour-the standards he set for himself and for everyone around him. That's why you’re still seeing lads come through the Academy now. Obviously, the likes of Lee Herron have since come in and Gilksey, Hunty and Ledge [Leigertwood].

"They created the incredible environment for players to come through and to get the opportunities in the first team, which I guess is what it's all about. I loved coming through the system and it was even better because I came through with 5-6 my best mates who all went on to have good careers."

Graduate number 15, with the Centre of Excellence officially becoming an Academy in 1999, Karacan made his debut under Steve Coppell before becoming a prominent face in the team under Brendan Rodgers and Brian McDermott.

"Reading is a real family club," Karacan continued. "When we were coming through, everyone knew everyone at the club from the first team down to the under-16s. We were literally around each other all day so there was that kind of bond between first-team staff down to the Academy. Training on pitches next to them was massive really when I look back. If they needed a player we were on the pitch next to them so we would be straight there- the transition was just seamless.

(Image: JasonPIX)

"In my time, with Brian McDermott as reserve manager at the time, everything was just streamlined. Eamonn knew what Brian wanted and Brian knew what Steve Coppell wanted. It just seemed to work perfectly. We knew what the demands were on Steve Coppell to make it into the first team, and I think that's probably a big reason why Churchy, myself, Pearcey, Gylfi [Sigurdsson], James Henry, Hal Robson-Kanu, Alex McCarthy and Julian Kelly- it was never ending really and that is why we had we did so well."

Despite facing a myriad of problems at the club, the Academy system continues to keep up its high standards and is set to feature in the Premier League International Cup after a top six finish in PL2.

Ran by club legends Michael Gilkes, Noel Hunt and Mikele Leigertwood, Karacan is pleased to see that the club has its 'heart and soul.'

"I think the club's been looking for a little while to get a bit of heat and soul back into it," Karacan mused. "With Noel and Ledge, you have two people who epitomise the club. Ledge is a hero not just what he did with the club but for scoring that goal and taking us to the Premier League. Noel is Reading through and through, the way he plays and the way he loves the game, his never-give-up attitude and his infectious character that demands from the way he is a lot of everybody. I think the Academy needs that."