‘Footy chairman paid £1million to sign me – he didn’t know what I looked like’

Former Reading star Leroy Lita has revealed Royals owner John Madejski had no idea what he looked like – despite spending £1million on him back in 2005.

Having come through the ranks of Chelsea's youth academy, Lita was released by the Blues, ending up at Bristol City where he signed his first professional deal as a teenager. The 38-year-old journeyman striker, who has played for a host of clubs across the UK, enjoyed a prolific 2004/05 campaign with the Robins, scoring 29 goals in 51 games.

So impressive was Lita that season, it put him on Reading's radar, with owner Madejski forking out £1m on the striker to bring him to the Madejski Stadium. However, the only issue at the time was, Madejski had no idea what Lita actually looked like.

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On the day Lita, who helped Reading to a Premier League promotion in his first season, went to conduct his Royals medical, he and his agent sat down in the restaurant at the stadium, when they saw Madejski, and weirdly, legendary singer Cilla Black dining.

Lita and his agent walked past Madejski, expecting the Reading owner to welcome the former to the club with open arms. However, Madesjki had no idea who he was, with Lita detailing the interaction recently to the Under the Cosh podcast.

"I walked into the Madejski Stadium, when he paid £1million. Not out of the budget, it was out of his own pocket," said Lita.

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"So I've walked into the Madejski Stadium to do my medical and stuff like that, I've gone into the restaurant with my agent, walked past him and he didn't have a clue who I was. Didn't even know what I looked like, swear down.

"I could have been anyone. He was like 'oh, good morning guys'. He was with Cilla Black at the time. He was having dinner or lunch with Cilla Black.

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"My agent had to go 'John Madejski, this is Leroy by the way'. He was like 'oh, how are you'.

"I was like, he didn't even know who I was! He just paid a million pound out of his back pocket for me. What's going on!"

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