Lazio Goalkeeper Pepe Reina: “I’ve Played With the Ball at My Feet All My Career”

Pepe Reina / S.S. Lazio
Pepe Reina / S.S. Lazio

Lazio goalkeeper Pepe Reina discussed his career, the Biancocelesti, the Spanish national team and playing with the ball at his feet in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS earlier today.

“I signed for two years with Lazio, with the option of a third. If we enter the Champions League next season it will start automatically. We will try to reach that third, and then a fourth. As long as my body survives!

“The advantage is that I really like what I do. When I will no longer have the smile to do what I have done so far, it will be time to stop. But until that moment.”

The Spaniard touched on his long career, and how it learnt early on.

“I was lucky that when Van Gaal came to Barcelona, Hoek was called as a goalkeeper coach from the Dutch school. I was young, I was 14 or 15 years old. We had to learn to play with our feet. This was my big advantage, working specifically on this since I was a child, which most goalkeepers did afterwards.

“Now everything has been modernized. Before, if we were lucky to have them, because not all teams had them, we worked with the goalkeepers’ coaches. It was a more specific job. Now we train with the rest of the team and we are involved in the same dynamics.”

He spoke about the benefits of a goalkeeper being comfortable with the ball at his feet and how he has utilized this skill at different clubs.

“Sometimes, playing with your feet inside the area, it seems like we are receiving pressure from the opponent, but if you do well and skip that pressure line you give the team an advantage to play further down the pitch. It’s a battle you have to work on. Obviously, if you don’t do it right, it becomes a double-edged sword.

“I like it because I have played with my feet all my career. First at Barça, then at Liverpool, although not so much. But at Napoli we played like that. I find myself at ease. I have adapted well to the times.”

The former Liverpool and Napoli shot stopper spoke about the changing rules to penalties that stop goalkeepers from moving off the line.

“It seems to me an outrage. All the goalkeepers think about it. I understand that one cannot advance by one meter, but by a few centimeters. Nothing should happen.

“It seems ridiculous to me. And what’s more, they are booking you. The punishment is already sufficient for them to repeat the penalty.”

Finally, Reina spoke about his time with the Spanish national team, which included winning the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

“The World Cup win against Holland was the happiest moment of Spanish football. The 23 of us who were chosen will always be remembered, but I don’t want to forget all the previous generations who did their part to make everything possible.

“The 5-1 against Brazil? It was a strange match. If Silva had scored 2-0 on the chance we had, everything would have been different. If we had scored that goal, maybe we would be talking about another World Cup. Who knows?

“Their goal before halftime knocked us down and in the second half things went wrong. They were far superior. We were a bit at the end of the cycle. It was palpable.”

The 38-year-old Reina, who is contracted to the Biancocelesti until 2022, has made four appearances so far this season under coach Simone Inzaghi, for a total of 360 minutes. In that time, he has conceded six goals and received one yellow card.