The son of famed FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Reina, Reina began his career with the Barcelona youth team and made his La Liga debut in the 2000–01 season. He signed for Villarreal in 2002, winning the UEFA Intertoto Cup twice. However, he soon moved on to Liverpool and made his debut in the 2005 UEFA Super Cup, which Liverpool won. He instantly became first-choice goalkeeper and went on to win both the FA Cup – where he saved three out of four West Ham United penalties in the final – and the FA Community Shield. In 2007, he reached the Champions League Final with Liverpool, matching the feat achieved by his father in 1974, but they lost to A.C. Milan.
At international level, Reina played for Spain’s youth team, winning the UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship in 1999. He made his senior debut in 2005, and has generally been selected as the second-choice keeper behind Iker Casillas. He was part of the Spain squad for the 2006 World Cup and made one appearance in their victorious 2008 European Championship campaign, earning him his first international honour. He was later part of the Spain squads that won their first ever World Cup in 2010 and their third European Championship in 2012.
Reina has been an ever-present fixture for Liverpool in the league since the start of the 2005–06 season. He is also the record holder for appearances by a Spanish player in the Premier League, with more than 200 appearances in just the first five seasons, 108 of the 219 appearances being clean sheets.In the 2010–11 season, he kept his 100th Premier League clean sheet for Liverpool, in a 3–0 win against Aston Villa.
Reina is well known for his distribution, and ability to save penalties. He is the second vice-captain for Liverpool in the absence of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. Reina has set a number of goalkeeping records for Liverpool and won the Premier League Golden Glove award for clean sheets in his first three seasons at the club.
Pepe you’ve mentioned a few times that “La Masia” shaped you as a person, which values did you learn?
I believe that you grow up earlier, I believe that you grow up quickly because you are away from home and you don’t have your parents, your siblings or your friends. You find yourself in the position of having to study, create a future and start taking things very seriously at an early age. You are lucky to have, not 34 brothers, but people of the same age who share both your dreams and your sorrows. People who can offer you a shoulder to cry or who need your own shoulder… there are many similarities amongst us all… that’s why you learn a great sense of the companionship.
Did you have a warm welcome when you arrived to liverpool?
Yes, I was lucky that there were already many Spanish people, this made everything easier. Adaptation was simpler because of this, and I believe that, not only within the team, but also the people in Liverpool have always been very welcoming towards us because they are grateful for everything we have always given to the club.
Why did you think liverpool fans never forgave Torres?
I don’t think it’s like that. Firstly, I don’t think he deserves that, and secondly, people have to appreciate what Fernando did. I believe that at the end of the day, the way he left wasn’t the best, but for him it was an opportunity to continue growing because he left Liverpool and has won a Champions League, a Europa League. He wanted to develop and do these things which have been possible at Chelsea. At Liverpool, we haven’t been able to play in the Champions League. I also understand that he felt betrayed so many times by unfulfilled promises, but I can say that if he could change something, it would be the way he left the club.
Why did he leave from the back door?
Yes because he left on the deadline day. It sounded like a betrayal but I was one of the people who supported him and I understood his decision.
You were name as player of the year 2009-2010 by Liverpool with competition from Gerrard and Torres,what do you think is the difference between the Pepe of then and the Pepe now?
Prizes are also won by the team. If the team is in good form you’re going to be better. If the team is not as good, it will affect all of us. The team hasn’t been on its best form over the last two years and perhaps Pepe Reina hasn’t been at the level he’s supposed to be. I’m lucky because I’ve had 6 really good years at Liverpool so people don’t judge me as much. They’re used to it and when you lower the level a bit, people ask for more.
One of your ex teammates at Liverpool, Xabi Alonso hasn’t signed for Real Madrid again, Do you think that he misses England?
Xabi is a player who felt really integrated in the English culture and I think that if he has the chance, he could play in England again, but there are some teams which you can’t say no to, and Real Madrid is one of these teams.
He chose to be in a huge club and we’ll see what happens in the future. He’s been in Madrid for 3 or 4 years and this has helped him to grow as a player.
There is a quote that says “It’s Best being a striker. If you miss five then score the winner, you are a hero.
The goalkeeper can play blinder,then let one in… and he’s a villain. Ian Rush.”
Unfortunately this is true. In our position you have this level of responsibility and I love having this responsibility, but it’s true that it’s a really ungrateful position and people remember a mistake before 4 or 5 really good saves in the same game.
Of all the qualities that a goalkeeper needs,which do you consider to be the most important?
There are a lot but I think that the mental strength, basically because of what I’ve just mentioned. Moving on is fundamental when you make a mistake so you can learn from it.
Thinking back to your successful period at Villareal…Did you notice the difference training between Spain and England?
Everything is more professional in England, and the greatness of both clubs is different. Villareal was a more familiar club, it was closer and everything was easier. Here the standards are much more professional. There are more people working in the medical and technical staff, so everything is a bit more professional.
But I wouldn’t change the group of players I was lucky to live with in Villareal for any of the others I’ve been to. That was personally the best experience of my career.
Do you think that your time in English football is helping your development as a footballer?
Having the opportunity of playing in another league in a different country and culture makes you grow up as a person as well as a player. Now I think I’m more complete than 7 or 8 years ago.
Where do you think the magic that you feel in Anfield comes from?
From history and from the way Scousers are. Football in Liverpool is more like a religion than a sport. Liverpool is the Pope in this case, and people feel devotion for this club. It’s really beautiful seeing the dedication and how it feels.
What do you feel being in a country like england,then you cant show at the top of the game how good your are when playing with your national team?
Being able to be in the National Team is a privilege. There are 23 players who are really important for their own teams but then only 11 can play, and that’s exactly the secret of the team, that all of us have taken on our roles at any given time. We all accepted that we can’t play every game. Often, being in the starting line-up is as important as being a substitute.
What is the best quality that stands out in Iker Casillas?
His regularity. He’s been at a great level for so long, and only a few can do that.
Do you thing that Mourinho is being fair on Iker Casillas?
Personally speaking, I don’t think he’s being fair. However, in sporting terms I don’t know because I don’t have the daily feedback.
In my opinion, I think that Diego López also deserves to play because he’s being fantastic and what looks like a turby relationship.
What do you think about Mourinho being back in England?
I think that Mourinho has that star aura as a manager. He’s a great manager and numbers don’t lie. Of course English football will be much more entertaining with him on the bench.
Everyone knows about your good humour but some people have tried to use that against you,why?
Yes but I always say it… I’d rather be seen as a bad goalkeeper and a nice guy than a great goalkeeper and a dull guy who had lost touch with normality and normal people. Sometimes people mistake being a good keeper with being a good person. Everyone has their own opinion but I’m not going to change my personality for anything.
As a friend and teammate,what would be your advice for Luis Suarez with regards to his future?
I recommend him Valium (laughing …). No, he is aware of what is best for him and his family. Liverpool is a great club but I’m sure he wants to fight for titles.
He wants to play with the best ones,Luis is 26 and he has to think about his career. And despite that, Liverpool is a great Club.
He maybe wants to have other things that Liverpool doesnt have right now.
Do you think the punishment would have beed different if it was in Spain?
I think the punishment would have been different if it had been an English player. In Spain, I’m not sure because I haven’t been there for a while. I am sure it would have been different if it had been an English player, in fact, there was already a punishment for a racist incident from the captain of the national team, but he received a double-match ban and general abuse.
What has it been like to have Carragher as a team mate?
He’s been a role model. What he has given to the club everyday of his life has been professionalism, quality, dedication and devotion for this t-shirt. It doesn’t matter if he did it right or wrong; he’s always given 100%, which is the minimum that a player can be asked for. He’s spent the majority of his career at a great level, he’s a legend. I wish that in the future, I will be remembered like Carragher. He’s a bit stubborn and he’s always moody but that’s why he loves football, because he’s a really competitive guy and he wants to bring out the best in his teammates. He’s a really ordinary guy; his family, his wife, his two children… just like all of us.
Do you think your spanish teammates in Liverpool will reach the same professonal success that you have?
It’s difficult to spend 8 years in a team as a foreigner. Right now we have José Enrique, Suso and people with the reserves who are Spanish too, and that will depend on them.
Pepe you have also said “There are things that money can’t buy…such as History.
Do you think that Liverpool pins too much on its history?
I think that we all feel proud of Liverpool history but that history sometimes misleads people into thinking that we don’t have to fight for things that have always been fought for. But right now there aren’t foundations to fight for that. There’s always this thing of wanting to be at the top, but Liverpool is where it has to be, and the other teams aren’t stupid. They strengthen themselves so now it’s difficult to be where we were at the 80s. There’s a reason why we haven’t won a league in 22 years.
Rafa Benitez job at Chelsea was in question,what do you think about this?
I think Chelsea supporters can’t forgive his past in Liverpool, so they haven’t appreciated what Rafa has done for Chelsea.
He has fulfilled the goals, they were at the FA Cup semifinal, and they just won the Europa League. He has got the team in the Champions League… things can’t be done better.
And now I’m really happy that he has accepted an important project such as Napoli’s.
I wish him the best and I’m sure he will do it very well.
Brendan Rodger said a few weeks ago, before the Fulham match, ”Pepe is not fot sale.
Do you think everyone has a price?
I think so but for me it’s also important to have the manager’s confidence and also to feel respected and appreciated. Of course, you need to feel that you have that support as well .
It’s been said that you are the perfect replacement for Valdes and that you are loved in Barcelona,would it be the best thing that could happen to you right now?
Like I said before, there are some teams you can’t say no to. FC Barcelona is one of them. I’ve always said that Liverpool is my home now, that I’m really happy to be here and I hope it’s for a long time. However, if at any time, it happens that Barça knocks on my door and I have the opportunity to return home, I think that it is going to be really difficult to say no.
Would you fit into Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona?
I have a lot of confidence in myself; but it’s a different thing to have their confidence in me.
If you get the chance to develop your profesional career outside of Liverpool,like we have mentioned, do you think your fans would understand after 8 successful years?
I hope so. I mean, during my career in Liverpool I’ve always given 100% of what I have. I could have left so many times but I wanted to stay here because I felt that I had to be here and because I wanted to be here. I’ve been lucky and I’ve had the feeling that I’ve played for two different Liverpool teams. The first one was really competitive and we were fighting for everything and the other one, the last one, perhaps wasn’t at the same level but I’ve always said that I’ve been really comfortable in Liverpool over the past 8 years. For me, this is home. It’s my children’s home, my wife’s home and it was here where we raised a family. I hope and I wish that if one day I changed location for any reason, because football said so, I hope people remember me with love.
Everyone knows how much you love this team,this city and what it means to you, will you always be half scouser?
In fact, my daughter is scouser and that won’t ever change. I feel really close to the city of Liverpool. I hope that if one day I have to leave, which will happen when it has to happen, I hope to come back and be welcomed to the city and to always have the love of people with me.
We know you have had recent addition to your family,would you like to see another great goalkeeper in the family like yourself?
If he wants, I’ll be happy with it but I’m going to try and make a striker out of him (he laughs).
But it would be nice that the saga could continue. The kid can do whatever he wants but yes, it would be lovely.
Its been said that “Behind a great man, there is a great woman,has your wife,Yolanda Ruiz been a key part of your profesional success?
That’s a lie, behind a great woman there is a great man. In my case I would say there is a great woman behind a “average man”.
Look… let me put it this way, without her I would be playing at Escalerilla Football Club* and not in Liverpool. It has been her that has given me that stability, that emotional control, that confidence in myself as a person and as a player. She’s the one who has been there at the bad times to put up with everything, and that’s something to appreciate. She’s the person who I love the most in the world, with my children. I owe a lot to her.