Thursday 22 August 2019

Thierry Henry, Arsene Wenger and Cesc Fabregas pay tribute to tragic former team-mate Jose Antonio Reyes

Jose Antonio Reyes celebrates with team-mates after scoring for Arsenal back in August 2004. Photo: Reuters/Alex Morton
Jose Antonio Reyes celebrates with team-mates after scoring for Arsenal back in August 2004. Photo: Reuters/Alex Morton

Max McLean

Arsenal hero Thierry Henry described former teammate and fellow 'invincible' Jose Antonio Reyes as a "wonderful player, superb team mate and exceptional human being" after the 35-year-old died in a car crash.

Reyes' former club Sevilla announced today the Spanish winger had died in a traffic collision, while Henry said he was "devastated to hear the sad news" adding the hashtag "#takenfartoosoon".

Reyes joined Arsenal in January 2004 and helped the club complete their unbeaten league campaign for the remainder of that season, as well as contributing to the club's run to the Champions League final in 2006.

The Gunners tweeted: "Everyone at Arsenal is devastated by the shocking news that our former player Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision in Spain."

Arsene Wenger signed Reyes for Arsenal, and he told the club today: "I am devastated to hear the terrible news about Jose.

"To his family and friends, all support from everyone in the Arsenal family. He will remain forever in our hearts."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pictured with his new signing Jose Antonio Reyes back in 2004. The ex-Arsenal and Spain forward died in a car crash at the age of 35 on Saturday June 1.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pictured with his new signing Jose Antonio Reyes back in 2004. The ex-Arsenal and Spain forward died in a car crash at the age of 35 on Saturday June 1.

Cesc Fabregas wrote a heartfelt message on Twitter reminiscing about the time he spent with Reyes, who he described as his "first great friend in the world of professional football, my room-mate, who always wanted to sleep with the air conditioning on even when it was -10 degrees."

The Monaco and Spain midfielder,  who joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old 2003, also said Reyes was a "humble guy who always had a smile on his face, a great footballer and a phenomenal person."

He added: "I'll never forget when you and your family welcomed me into your home during my first Christmas in England when I was alone and 16 years old.

"I'll never forget our games of football tennis in the gym before and after training. Our connection on the pitch was also special.

"I always said that you have been one of the greatest talents in our football and I know I'm not wrong.

"Two days ago I was talking about you in an interview, maybe it was a sign, who knows, to remember you, my great friend. I'll never forget you, we'll never forget you. Always in our hearts. Rest in peace Jose Antonio Reyes. I love you very much."

Other former Arsenal colleagues in the form of Freddie Ljungberg, Ray Parlour, Robert Pires and Abou Diaby shared tributes on social media too, along with current Gunners boss Unai Emery.

Ljungberg said he was "numbed by the news" about his former teammate, while Parlour described the former Spain international as a "great talent".

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Cesc Fabregas captained Arsenal from November 2008 until he left for Barcelona in August 2011 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Emery tweeted his condolences in Spanish that translated as: "Deeply sad and speechless after learning of this tragic news. I'll never forget your magic and your smile Jose, never. It was an honour to be by your side...a strong hug and all the spirit of the world to family, friends and clubs he represented. RIP friend."

Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham, meanwhile, paid their respects, tweeting: "All of our thoughts are with Jose's friends and family, and everyone at Arsenal at this very difficult time."

Arsenal fans the world over mourned the news of Reyes' passing, with @gunnerblog leading the fan reaction online.

"This is such desperately sad news," he wrote.

Reyes left Arsenal to join Real Madrid on loan in La Liga before winning five Europa League titles with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.

PA Media

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