- José Antonio Reyes, former Arsenal and Spain player, dies in car accident aged 3510:06 | 03/06/2019
Arsenal and the wider world of European football paid emotional tribute to José Antonio Reyes on Saturday after the 35-year-old was killed in a car accident in Spain.
‘A wonderful player, superb teammate and exceptional human being’ – Thierry Henry has paid tribute to his former Arsenal teammate. Photograph: Lee Mills/Action Images
His boyhood club Sevilla had earlier announced the news, tweeting: “We couldn’t be confirming worse news. Beloved Sevilla star José Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision. Rest in peace.”
Atlético Madrid, where Reyes won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012, said: “The Atlético family is in mourning. [He] will forever be in our hearts.” Barcelona, meanwhile, hailed “a brilliant, charismatic player … an outstanding figure”.
Reyes made his senior debut for Sevilla aged just 16, quickly attracting attention with a potent mix of pace and clinical finishing. Arsenal paid £10.5m to bring the then-20-year-old to England in 2004, where he played a part in their remarkable unbeaten league season. Arsène Wenger led tributes from former colleagues, writing: “I am devastated to hear the terrible news. To his family and friends, all support from everyone in the Arsenal family. He will remain forever in our hearts.”
Former teammate Freddie Ljungberg said he was “numbed by the news … Gone far too soon. My thoughts are with his family and friends.” Thierry Henry wrote: “I’m devastated to hear the sad news … Wonderful player, superb teammate and exceptional human being. I wish his family and friends continued strength and courage.”
Arsenal loaned Reyes to Real Madrid in 2006 before selling him to Real’s city rivals Atlético a year later. A return to his home club Sevilla followed in 2012, after which he moved on to play for Espanyol, Córdoba, and then China’s Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard. He returned home at the start of this year, signing a five-month deal with Extremadura.
Reyes won the Europa League five times – three times with Sevilla, and twice with Atlético Madrid. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Offside/Getty Images
During his storied career, Reyes also won 21 caps for Spain between 2003 and 2006, and was part of their 2006 World Cup squad.
Of all his career honours across Europe, Reyes always rated the silverware won with his boyhood club as the most special. Talking before the 2014 Europa League final, which Sevilla won 4-2 on penalties over Benfica, Reyes said: “When I was small, I dreamed of winning a title with Sevilla. Winning a title is the nicest thing there is. You feel something special, like you’ve done a really good job. It’s also great to see the fans so happy. In all the teams I’ve been at I’ve done very well. But Sevilla is my home.”
A minute’s silence was due to be observed before the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham. The Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, said: “He had a glittering career and won numerous honours wherever he played. I am shocked and saddened that his life has been so tragically cut short.”
Reyes leaves his wife Noelia López, whom he married in June 2017, and three children: daughters Noelia and Triana and son José Antonio Jr from a previous relationship.
Source – The Guardian
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