CHRIS Gunter is relishing the chance to play against his hometown club when Reading host Newport County AFC in the Capital One Cup first round.
The Exiles travel to the Madejski Stadium in the week commencing August 11.
And 24-year-old Gunter, who was only a few months old when the original Newport County went out of business, can’t wait to face Justin Edinburgh’s men.
“I was looking on Reading’s website at the teams we could have got – and Newport would have definitely been the one I would have chosen,” said the Wales international, who has already racked up 53 caps.
“I would have preferred it to be at their ground but it’s great that it’s against them.
“I haven’t come across Newport yet, only played against them for Cardiff in a Wales under-18s game, so I’m looking forward to it. I had quite a few texts when the news came in.”
As a youngster Gunter attended Durham Road Junior School, now known as Glan Usk Primary School, before moving on to St Julian's High School as a teenager.
And he learned his footballing trade in Newport, playing for a number of local youth teams in the city including Durham Colts and Albion Rovers before he was snapped up by Cardiff City as an eight-year-old.
He flourished with the Bluebirds and made his first-team debut aged 17.
He quickly impressed the following year as he became the youngest Cardiff City player to play for the full Welsh team and that led to a £2 million move to Tottenham Hotspur.
Gunter went on to play for Nottingham Forest before a £3m move to Reading in 2012.
And Reading’s cup tie against Newport is certain to bring memories flooding back of his early career back home.
“Yes, I was born in Newport and lived there until I left Cardiff for Spurs when I was 19,” he told localberkshire.co.uk.
“I’ve got family and friends that live there, and for some reason my old school is naming a new gym after me.
“It will be opening in September and I’ll be going back there for then – so I’ve got plenty of links in Newport.”