In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.
Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final triumph owes plenty to the actions of Jerzy Dudek, who saved from AC Milan’s Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the penalty shoot-out and also pulled off an incredible double save from the latter in extra time with the score at 3-3. [via The Guardian]
Despite the Poland international’s heroics in Istanbul that night, Reds manager Rafael Benitez still saw fit to add to his goalkeeping options the following summer by purchasing Pepe Reina from Villarreal.
The Spaniard arrived at Anfield with a reputation as a regular saver of penalties, having kept out seven of the nine spot kicks that Villarreal faced in his final season at the club (as per lfchistory.net)
Reina instantly supplanted Dudek as Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper, having played 33 Premier League games in his first season in England (as per TransferMarkt).
He rewarded Benitez’s faith by keeping 20 clean sheets in the league, including an eight-game sequence towards the end of 2005, and followed in Dudek’s footsteps by making decisive saves in a cup final, saving three spot kicks as the Reds defeated West Ham on penalties to win the FA Cup.
The Spanish goalkeeper still had a mistake in him, though – even in that FA Cup final, he was at fault for a couple of the Hammers’ goals, while his fumble led to Everton’s third goal in a 0-3 derby defeat in the early weeks of 2006/07.
Despite those unfortunate moments, Reina was generally a very reliable presence between the sticks for Liverpool, winning the Premier League Golden Glove in each of his first three seasons at Anfield and reaching 50 clean sheets quicker than any goalkeeper in Reds history.
His consistency was highlighted by him being ever-present for Liverpool in four consecutive Premier League campaigns between 2007 and 2011, reaching 150 consecutive league games for the club towards the end of the 2010/11 campaign.
There was still the occasional moment to forget for Reina, such as the infamous ‘beach ball’ goal in a 0-1 loss at Sunderland in 2009 and spilling the ball into his own net in stoppage time to cost the Reds two points against Arsenal at the start of 2010/11.
Troughs became more frequent for the Spaniard in later seasons, being sent off in a defeat at Newcastle in April 2012 which ended his 183-game run of Premier League appearances, as well as committing errors against Hearts and Manchester City in 2012/13, the latter depriving Liverpool of victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Just as Reina had been signed to replace Dudek eight years earlier, Simon Mignolet was purchased by Brendan Rodgers in 2013 to supplant the Spaniard, who reunited with Benitez at Napoli on a season-long loan deal (as per BBC).
The former Liverpool and Napoli goalkeeper could well have been keeping an eye on his previous clubs’ Champions League clash at Anfield in midweek, a fixture that saw another ‘keeper produce a defining moment last season.
It was Alisson’s remarkable stoppage-time save which ensured a tense 1-0 win for the Reds and took them into the knockout rounds at the Serie A side’s expense, a key contribution as Jurgen Klopp’s team ultimately lifted the trophy.
Reina was culpable of a few blunders in his time at Liverpool, but a record of 177 clean sheets in 395 appearances (44.8% of games) and 341 goals conceded (0.86 per game) shows how consistently brilliant he was for so long at Anfield, while the penalty-saving reputation that he brought from Villarreal was enhanced by his heroics in the 2006 FA Cup final and four spot-kick saves in normal time during his Reds career.
Liverpool fans, what did you think of Reina during his time at the club? Would you consider him one of the Reds’ best-ever goalkeepers? Comment below with your views!
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