The fans voted Pepe Reina for Liverpool’s December’s star man. Fernando Torres called him the best keeper in the world and Rafa Benitez described him as the best Spanish goalkeeper. His father, Miquel Reina said: “He’s better than me” …
As a child Pepe wanted to be a winger but instead – thanks to his father’s support – became the goalkeeper for Liverpool FC. Pepe arrived in the city of The Beatles in July 2005. He came from Villareal, where he was on loan from Barcelona, the club where he had worked his way up from the junior ranks to the senior squad. He was renowned as ‘a penalty-stopper’.
Within the time at Liverpool, for three years in row (2006-2008), he won the Golden Glove award for the highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League. The goalkeeping son of a goalkeeper has become more famous than his father, gained the respect of the manager, the fans, team mates and the opponents. But the Number 25 of Liverpool isn’t only a great player, he is also a charming character, the ideal dressing room companion who can give you a boost when things are going badly or when someone is feeling down …
Pepe Reina is also Fernando Torres’ team mate in Liverpool FC and in the Spanish national team. But what does the best keeper in the world think of the best striker in the world?
Excerpt from the book “Torres” by Luca Caioli, from the author’s converstation with Pepe Reina.
What advice did you give Fernando to help him when he arrived (in Liverpool)?
Pepe Reina:“Fernando is very good at getting his head round different situations and that’s why he adapted to Liverpool so quickly and so well. (…) When I arrived at Liverpool, it was Fernando Morientes who helped me a lot and I try to do the same with whoever comes, making an open invitation to visit me at home, giving advice and making myself available for whatever they need.”
How is Torres seen from the perspective of the Liverpool goal?
P.R.: “He’s a player that makes all of us a little better. He has skill, speed and directness, which all help the team. For those who play around him, he makes their passing easier and he can turn the ball to his advantage. For me, from behind, the attacks that we have practiced are a lot easier when I can take advantage of his speed. It’s something we have talked about, we know each other well and we know when to do it in a match. In a given moment, I can find him with the ball behind the opponents’ defence.” (…) There are two footballer who, when you play against them, you always suspect that something bad’s going to happen. Those two are David Villa and Fernando Torres. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but it’s a feeling of a danger. When he has the ball, your goal isn’t safe.”
What is the quality that strikes you the most about Fernando?
P.R.: “His ambition. (…) For that reason he comes out on top. He’s never content to sit back with what he has, he’s always trying to improve himself. (…) He studies errors he’s made and works very hard to do it better the next time.”
Torres is a star of the team?
P.R.: “Yes, Stevie and Fernando are our stars and that’s how it should be because they are the two players who make the difference. Fernando has created a place for himself amongst the Liverpool greatest because he’s very charismatic, a good guy, a warm guy, a worker and that’s how the people of Liverpool see him and they really appreciate him.”
And he’s also the ‘pin-up boy’ of the team …
P.R.: “That’s not how he appears to me. Men are not my thing but I understand that Fernando has that attraction. He’s tall, strong, handsome and he’s got hair – what’s more it’s blond – not like me!”