Andy Yiadom says his four seasons playing non-league football have improved him as a player.
Now 26, Yiadom arrived at Reading last week on a free transfer after his contract at Barnsley expired.
And it has been an up and down journey for the right-back, who made his first appearance for the Royals at Eastleigh last weekend, having been released by Watford as a teenager.
Yiadom joined Hayes and Yeading in 2010, spending a year there before moving onto Braintree Town for another season in the National league.
The defender then joined Barnet, where he enjoyed the longest spell of his career of five seasons, two of which came in League Two before being relegated back into non-league and then spending his final season back in the Football League following promotion.
Yiadom, who captained Barnet, then earned a move up to the Championship with Barnsley, where he also named captain, spending two seasons in the second flight and also got called up to play two games for the Ghana international team before moving to Berkshire this summer.
“I started at Watford and didn’t get a pro contract unfortunately,” explained the defender.
“So I did drop down and play in the Conference and I think that’s helped to be fair.
“Dropping down that low, no disrespect and getting the experience and working my way up. You really cherish every moment while you’re here.”
He added: “Back in the Conference it is tough and direct, but all that is part of experience and will help me in the rest of my career and my time here of course.
“I am looking forward to working under Paul Clement.
“He’s worked with some of the best players in the world so I’m really looking forward to not only being here and going through the sessions but actually learning from the things that he has to say.”
Reading began pre-season with a 2-1 defeat against Eastleigh at The Silverlake Stadium on Saturday.
They go to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday (12pm) and hope to have both Yann Kermorgant and Sam Smith available after they missed the trip to Hampshire but Joey van den Berg may not be risked with his future at the club still uncertain.