A couple of high profile errors from Pepe Reina this season have proved that Liverpool’s number one (or should I say number 25) is, in fact, prone to the odd error.
When Pepe Reina first arrived on these shores, he found the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League to be a far cry from La Liga. Those with less mental strength than Reina may have continued to be plagued by the aerial bombardment that many teams resorted to in an attempt to disrupt the Spaniard. Rafa Benitez’s proclamation that he was “the best goalkeeper in Spain” seemed unlikely, but he continued to keep faith in the £6m man.
Nevertheless, Reina quickly became accustomed to the English game and broke all manner of records in his first season. On his way to winning the FA Cup Final in his debut season, Reina didn’t concede for 11 consecutive games between October and December in 2005.
Reina also broke Ray Clemence’s record of conceding the fewest goals in his first 50 games for the club. Clemence conceded 32 compared to Reina’s 29.
Add to this the small matter of keeping a remarkable 20 clean sheets in the Premier League, which earned him the Golden Glove award.
Reina is now in his sixth season at the club, and his status has elevated to such an extent that he has captained the team under Kenny Dalglish in the absence of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.
For a goalkeeper who oozes confidence, it has been somewhat of a shock to see him concede soft goals.
With the score locked at 0-0 at Craven Cottage, Reina spilt a routine save at the feet of Clint Dempsey, who smashed the ball home to grab a win against a 10-man Liverpool side.
More recently, Liverpool seemed to be gaining a foothold in the game at league leaders Manchester City. That is, until Reina inexplicably let a tame shot from Sergio Aguero squirm underneath his body.
I was the first to defend Reina following these mistakes. By all means, he has made far fewer mistakes than Petr Cech at Chelsea, Manchester United’s David de Gea or any of Arsenal’s young goalkeepers in recent seasons. These two isolated incidents alone do not diminish his deserved reputation as one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
No longer is he the best goalkeeper in Spain. But few would argue that he is the best goalkeeper in England. Even if superman himself has proved that he is human.