Belfast Telegraph

Jose Antonio Reyes, the Premier and Europa League history maker

Reyes won the Premier League with Arsenal and also claimed the Europa League fives times.

Jose Antonio Reyes won the Europa League five times. (Adam Davy/PA)
Jose Antonio Reyes won the Europa League five times. (Adam Davy/PA)

Jose Antonio Reyes was the first Spaniard to win the Premier League.

His part in the Gunners’ historic unbeaten Premier League triumph in 2004 will remain etched in the club’s folklore, Arsene Wenger’s men going through the season unbeaten.

Reyes is also the most decorated player in the Europa League, having won it five times.

bpanews_340f6156-b320-4a3c-b9c5-60a7c4a862d8_embedded22729989
Reyes was a big hit at Arsenal (Sean Dempsey/PA)

He won the trophy three times with Sevilla and it was his boyhood club who confirmed his death in a car accident, aged 35, on Saturday.

Born in Utreta, less than 20 miles from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, it was inevitable that Reyes would start his career with Sevilla, making his debut at 16, and helping them to promotion to LaLiga in 2001.

He scored 22 goals in 73 starts in four years, which attracted Wenger’s interest.

He joined Arsenal for £10.5million in January 2004, scoring five goals in 21 games in all competitions during the second half of the seaosn as the unbeaten Gunners claimed the Premier League title.

bpanews_340f6156-b320-4a3c-b9c5-60a7c4a862d8_embedded23393668
He reached the Champions League final with the Gunners (Nick Potts/PA)

A year later he helped Arsenal to FA Cup glory but was sent off in extra-time in the final before Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties.

He was also a late substitute in Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in 2006 and in the August he joined Real Madrid, initially on loan.

Reyes won LaLiga with Real before switching to city rivals Atletico for £12million in 2007 to officially end his Arsenal career after 110 appearances and 23 goals.

It was a successful four and a half years at the Vicente Calderon Stadium as Reyes helped Atletico win the Europa League in 2010 and 2012.

bpanews_340f6156-b320-4a3c-b9c5-60a7c4a862d8_embedded226375001
Success in Spain followed (David Davies/PA)

He had rejoined Sevilla by the time Atletico lifted it in 2012 but had played in the early stages and it was the start of a love affair with the trophy.

With Sevilla he won it three more times as Unai Emery’s side dominated the competition, winning it in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Reyes set up Carlos Bacca to score in the 2015 final against Dnipro as Sevilla won 3-2.

His fourth win was a Europa League record and he set another in 2016 when he collected a fifth winners’ medal following Sevilla’s 3-1 win over Liverpool.

Again, he did not play in the final but, under UEFA’s rules, having played in the early stages he claimed a medal.

Reyes moved on a free to Espanyol later that summer and also played for Cordoba after a brief spell in China with Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard and joined Extremadura in Spain’s second tier in January.

He won 21 caps for Spain, scoring four times and played in the 2006 World Cup.

He is survived by wife Noelia, whom he married in 2017.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph