Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina is a goalkeeper for Spain and Liverpool in the English Premier League. Though he has mainly been the substitute goalkeeper for Spain, behind much-lauded keeper Iker Casillas, he played one game in the Euro 2008 Championships as Spain ran out as victors. Reina is a talented shot-stopper, and an extremely solid pair of hands, and has broken various records with his clean-sheets in his time with Liverpool.
Jose Reina was born on 31st August 1982, in Madrid. He is the son of former football player Miguel Reina, who was also a goalkeeper – playing for Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. In spite of being born in Madrid, he chose to take his goalkeeping apprentice with Barcelona, and was soon working his way up the Barcelona youth teams.
Pepe Reina made his debut for the Barcelona B team when he was just 17, and was immediately handed the number 1 shirt after some stunning saves in his first game. A spectacular start to his second season led to promotion to the Barcelona first-team. With a young Iker Casillas excelling between the sticks at arch-rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona were keen to have a young goalie to prove they had great youth-team players coming through the ranks too.
Reina performed admirably to see out the end of the 00/01 season on a high, but with Rustu Recber returning to fitness, Jose lost his place midway through the 01/02 season. Whilst other young players would be content to sit and wait for their next chance, Reina decided that he needed first-team football, and joined Villareal at the end of the season.
With Villareal, Reina was involved in a relegation dog-fight – no doubt aiding his shot-stopping skills and helping him to build his mental strength. As Reina grew and developed, so to did Villareal – finishing 16th in his first season, then 8th, and then pushing for the title with a superb season that ended in third position. Reina had finally made his mark.
Jose Reina joined Liverpool in July 2005, arriving amidst Liverpool’s Champions League celebrations. Jerzy Dudek had proven to be the hero when Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties, but that didn’t mean that the Polish international would keep the number 1 spot – Reina immediately went into the first-team, with coach Rafael Benitez hailing him as ‘Spain’s best goalkeeper’.
Success followed instantly, along with his first Spain cap, with a European Super Cup and FA Cup victory. He also broke the record number of consecutive clean sheets – going 11 matches without conceding. Reina now competes with Charles Itanje and Diego Cavalieri for the first-team spot, but the three-time Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year looks far from troubled. He is a key component in Liverpool’s Premiership and Champions League campaigns.
Jose Reina has had to make do with playing second fiddle for the Spain international side. With Iker Casillas battling Jose for the same spot, it’s easy to see why it’s been so difficult for Reina to pick up caps.
He made his debut in August 2005, some five years after Casillas, and was called up to the World Cup 2006, playing the final game in the group against Saudi Arabia. At Euro 2008 he was, again, on the bench, though he played an important part in their win against Greece, which ensured that Spain had enough confidence in the depth of the squad to go on and win the tournament.