207 appearances (as of the end of 2008-2009)
105 clean sheets
Signed from Villareal in 2005 for 6 mil
BACKGROUND BEFORE LFC
For such a young player (Reina is only 26), Pepe has achieved a tremendous amount as a professional footballer. As an 18 year old, Reina faced Liverpool whilst playing for Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semifinals! Gary McAllister scored the penalty on him, but to think that an 18 year old would be trusted with this opportunity! It just goes to show his clear and obvious ability as a player. As the son of a person who lost a European Cup Final (Miguel Reina for Atletico Madrid), Reina definitely had the right pedigree, and he was getting his chances with quality teams. In two seasons at Barcelona (2000-2002), Reina played 30 times, but felt he needed to move on to become a more regular goalkeeper. He went to Villareal on loan, where he earned a reputation of being an incredible saver of penalties and ALSO earned the reputation of being an amazing goalkeeper. In that process, he signed on full time with the “yellow submarine,” and was part of a deal that sent Juliano Belletti (the man who scored for Barca in the 2006 Champions League Final and now plays for Chelsea) to Barcelona. So how good of a penalty saver was Pepe at Villareal? How does saving 7 out of 9 sound? HOLY CRAP!
SIGNING FOR, AND SETTLING INTO, LFC
Reina signed for Liverpool on the 4th of July of 2005, which is looking like a lucky day for us, given that we signed Torres on that same day in 2007! Reina settled in quite quickly, as well, conceding only 2 goals in his first 6 matches at the club. The streak of quality play continued, with the Reds giving up only 44 goals in 2005-2006 (not all of which were at Reina’s expense, mind you) compared to the 55 in 2004-2005. Pepe Reina became well known for his clean sheets eventually, and this was becoming clear at an early stage for Liverpool. Rafa had claimed that Reina was the best keeper in Spain, and this was not looking like a crazy claim whatsoever.
STYLE OF PLAY
SWEEPER KEEPER! A sweeper keeper is a goalkeeper that quickly comes off of his line and acts almost as a 5th defender. Reina’s quality that is so crucial is the ability to read situations and to snuff them out before they turn into a disaster. As a result of this, he has less saves to make. But when he is called upon to make saves, he’ll do so. Particularly from the penalty spot, where he’s made quite the impression. Though he hasn’t saved too many in a regular 90 minute match (though the ones he HAS saved have been important), Reina has been the hero in two of the two shootouts in major situations… the FA Cup Final in 2006 and the Champions League semifinal in 2007, saving three shots in 2006 and two in 2007. Reina can command the area, can be a great shotstopper, and has an infectious personality. In other words, he is the f***ing man!!!
Without a doubt it is his penalty saving heroics in the “Gerrard Final” in 2006 against West Ham. The FA Cup victory was one that we really had to fight for, and though we conceded three goals (with the second clearly being Reina’s fault, actually), Reina was the hero on the night alongside Gerrard as he saved three of the four penalties West Ham attempted in the shootout. He saved low strikes from Zamora, Konchesky, and Ferdinand, cementing himself into the folklore of great PK keepers along with Bruce Grobbelaar and Jerzy Dudek. If that wasn’t enough, he did it again a year later in the 2006-2007 Champions League semifinal against Chelsea, where he saved two of the three attempts (Robben and Geremi), sending us to the final.
Winning “Golden Gloves” has also been great for Reina, winning them in three consecutive seasons from 2005-2006 through 2007-2008, and only missing out by one from Edwin Van Der Sar in 2008-2009.
In a nutshell, though, you could say Reina’s entire time at Liverpool bar a three month period in 2006-2007 has been a wonderful ride, and a great time.
Other than his error against West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final, and losing the 2007 Champions League Final against AC Milan, Reina hasn’t really had many rought moments. Take that back. Everton in 2006-2007, when we lost 0-3. Reina was bad on the day, to say the least. But moments like that are INCREDIBLY rare from a player who has reached 100 clean sheets faster than any other keeper in Liverpool’s fantastic history.
2008-2009 SEASON VERDICT
Superb, yet again. Reina’s confidence in goal is something people take for granted sometimes, because it is consistent and SUCH a given. He even became a threat on the offensive end in 2008-2009, with two memorable plays that led to instant goals. The first was against Bolton when he quickly and intelligently found Alonso on a VERY speedy counter, leading up to a fine goal from Robbie Keane. Then, he had a one time hit from a drop kick to Albert Riera that went the full length of the pitch, and Riera volleyed it in one time off of only ONE bounce. This is the goalkeeper of the future, and we have him now! We are incredibly lucky to have such a fine goalkeeper in our squad. I love Reina!
LFC CAREER VERDICT
Absolutely brilliant. He has filled a void we’ve had in the squad since the days of Bruce Grobbelaar and Ray Clemence in the 80s and 70s. In the 1990s, we had an aging Grobbelaar and an accident-prone David James. Then we had Sander Westerveld, who was incompetent. This was followed by Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland, who were both just “average.” So to have a player who is probably one of the best 10 keepers in the world is a very lucky thing to have going for us. We rarely have to deal with keeper blunders, and we always know that he’ll be there to clean up the mess if that happens. And if we have a PK shootout, it’s almost as good as ours! His PK saves against West Ham and Chelsea instantly made him loved, as did his Golden Gloves from 2005-2008, but the confidence he instills in absolutely everybody is the main reason he has been such a wild success at the club. In 2008, on my old blog, I commented that I thought Reina was the best signing Rafa has made at the club, surpassing that of both Alonso and Torres, even! Why? Because he is the last line, and it is a position that can absolutely destroy or save you. And in our case, he saves us. Again and again. He is the best keeper, statistically, in both the Premiership and in our club’s history. That’s saying something, isn’t it? I believe it is!