Monday 25 September 2017

Reina fires broadside over his exile to Napoli

A screengrab of Pepe Reina’s official website showing his open letter to Liverpool fans
A screengrab of Pepe Reina’s official website showing his open letter to Liverpool fans
Argentine striker striker Gonzalo Higuain, left, stands with Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina during his presentation at the San Paolo stadium in Naples

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Pepe Reina made his frustrations at his Liverpool departure clear with a strongly worded open letter to fans on his website.

The Spanish goalkeeper is going to Napoli on a season-long loan and, while the overall tone of the letter was positive, he insisted that "it was not my decision to leave", that he was surprised to be going and that he thought he deserved to have been consulted on the move.

"If I have one regret, it is the way that I am leaving. It is only natural that I would be disappointed that the management agreed to loan me to Napoli without telling me first, I thought that I deserved better than that even though I understand that difficult decisions have to be taken in football."

INTEREST

While Reina admitted an interest in returning to Barcelona, his first club, he said that he had not asked to go anywhere else.

He said: "I told the manager that I wanted to play for Liverpool and that Barcelona would only become an option for me if the opportunity arrived, like the rumours said it would, as it would be a chance for me to go back home. When it didn't come I was happy to fight for my place so I was surprised that Liverpool decided to send me to Napoli instead."

Reina did say that he relished the challenge at Napoli, where he will be reunited with Rafael Benitez, who brought him to Liverpool in 2005 and oversaw his first five seasons at Anfield.

Reina hailed Benitez as the best manager he has played under, ahead of Kenny Dalglish, Manuel Pellegrini, Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers.

He said: "Now I have to look forward to a new challenge with Rafa, who I consider to be the best manager I have worked with, and I am fortunate to be going from one great club to another."

Reina said that he was impressed by the club's ambition, and Napoli must be considered strong contenders for Serie A and even the Champions League, following the arrivals of Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Raul Albiol and Jose Maria Callejon.

"Napoli remind me in many ways of the Liverpool I found in 2005, in all the affection they have shown me on my arrival, in having an ambitious project, even in coinciding and working with Benitez again," Reina added.

Reina's memories of Liverpool – where he won the 2006 FA Cup and 2012 League Cup, and was runner-up in the 2007 Champions League – were happy, though.

"It is a strange feeling for me to think that next season I will not be a Liverpool player," he said.

"The club, the staff, the city, the people and the supporters have played a massive part in my life. It has given me an understanding of what it is like to play for the most wonderful English club. I may not have won as many trophies and medals as I would have liked but the experiences I have been a part of are as important as any silverware." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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