Gunter Spurred on by Premier League past
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Point to prove: Chris Gunter is relishing a return to the Premier League with the Royals.
CHRIS Gunter is determined to take the top-flight by storm, and admitted: "Dropping out of the Premier League was the best thing I ever did."
The Wales international has unhappy memories of the last time he was in the top division with Tottenham Hotspur.
He had made only a handful of appearances for his native Cardiff City as a teenager when Spurs signed him for around £4 million December 2008.
But he made only five Premier League appearances for the north Londonders and was eventually sold to Nottingham Forest for £1.75 million in July the following year.
However, while many footballers may have struggled to deal with the rejection and a drop , Gunter used it as catalyst to improve his game over the next three years.
And all the hard work paid off a month ago when the softly-spoken defender made a £2.3 million switch to the Royals.
Now Gunter, 23, is hoping it will be second time lucky on his return to the Premier League.
Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle, he said: "Going to Tottenham as a young lad having not played that many first team games with Cardiff was tough. But it's a different situation now.
"I was around some top players at Spurs. We won the Carling Cup a couple of months after I joined and also got to the final the following season.
"I learned a lot in that time. I didn't play a great deal which was disappointing, but I think it helped me on an international level to stay in the Wales team. Then I went to Nottingham Forest when I learned to play football every week and what I need to put into games.
"But I'm back in the Premier League now and I need to stay focused so that I stay there this time. I think Reading as a club feel the same so our ambitions are similar."
While Gunter was clearly frustrated by the lack of opportunity he had at White Hart Lane, he insists the experience of training with a Premier League club massively helped his career. And he dismissed suggestions the move to Tottenham came too early in his fledgling career.
He stressed: "I don't think I was too young. When you are that age people only look at your performances on a Saturday afternoon. But when you are at a club like Tottenham and you are training with players like Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Lennon from Monday to Friday you are learning all the time.
"The experience I had there was invaluable. I think it made me grow up off the pitch as well and I will never have any regrets about joining Tottenham. It's a great club.
"I also had a great time at Nottingham Forest. They were two different parts of a learning curve that definitely helped my career."
Gunter has been nursing a foot injury but has now made a full recovery and is likely to play a part in Reading's pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace at Madejski Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
Manager Brian McDermott will field a strong team against the Eagles, with fellow new signings Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie, Nicky Shorey, Garath McCleary and Adrian Mariappa all likely to be involved.
It is Reading's last warm-up match before their Premier League opener against Stoke City on August 18 (3pm).