Sport Soccer

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Ex-Gunner Jose Antonio Reyes hopes to live dream with Sevilla

Jose Antonio Reyes is desperate to clinch the Europa League title with Sevilla tonight. Photo: GOGO LOBATO/AFP/Getty Images
Jose Antonio Reyes is desperate to clinch the Europa League title with Sevilla tonight. Photo: GOGO LOBATO/AFP/Getty Images

Due to a quirk of fate, Jose Antonio Reyes has no shortage of suitors vying for his affections in this month's two European finals – having played for all four clubs involved.

But there is no chance of any divided loyalties for the 30-year-old winger, who, after almost a decade away from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, is back in Sevilla colours and desperate to fill in a missing blank in his career.

Sevilla are more than just a former club for Reyes; he was born in the nearby town of Utrera, learnt his trade in the club's youth teams, and is also a lifelong fan.

And if he could help them lift the Europa League title against Benfica in Turin tonight he would fulfil a lifelong ambition – win a major honour with his own club.

"When I was small, I dreamt of winning a title with Sevilla," he said. "Winning a title is the nicest thing there is. You feel something special, like you've done a really good job. Sevilla is my home."

Arsenal won the race for the player in 2004, persuading Sevilla to part company with their home-grown ace for a fee that could have risen close to £20m.

Reyes helped the Gunners win the Premier League in '04 and the FA Cup the following year but generally struggled to adapt to life in London and was regularly linked with a move back to Spain.

There have been plenty of highs for Reyes – the two goals he scored in the final half-hour of the 2006/'07 Primera Division which won Real Madrid the title. He also played a part in Atletico's Europa League wins in 2010 and 2012.

As the years passed though, Reyes thought increasingly of going back home and in January 2012 he got his wish when Sevilla signed him from Atletico for around £3m.

"For me to be here is a dream. Thinking that we could win the Europa League makes me so happy I can hardly believe it," he said.

SEVILLA V BENFICA, LIVE, ITV4, 7.45pm

Irish Independent

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