Lazio goalkeeper Pepe Reina discussed his career, tonight’s Champions League clash against Bayern Munich and more in an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe earlier today.
My first match in a European competition was against Bruges, at Camp Nou. That match ended 1-1 and I made a mistake, I came out and didn’t understand Emmanuel Petit.
He touched on the differences between that game and the one he played against Club Brugge earlier this season.
Today I feel more the weight of the personalities. It was two and a half months ago, it was about making club history and getting back into the Champions League after twenty years. We had a lot to lose, a win or a draw would have qualified us.
When you get older, the sense of responsibility increases because you are much more aware of the problems around you. When you’re 18, you don’t think. A mistake can condemn you, but you think about it much more when you are 38.
And as you get older, people expect a lot more from you. It’s a healthy fear that pushes you not to make mistakes. I live it even more strongly today.
The Spanish veteran touched on the highlights of the Champions League.
The Champions League is a special competition. You can smell the scent of the big nights. At Anfield, for example, every European evening is unique. The first time I played there was with Barcelona, in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup. I saw the whole world cheering.
I thought it was for their team, but it was for me. An alchemy was created that night between the club and me. At the final whistle, instead of hearing whistles, we heard ‘You’ll never walk alone’ sung louder than ever.
The 38-year-old touched on which stadium has the loudest Champions League anthem.
It is in Naples that it is sung loudest, for the final roaring cry at the San Paolo, which has become the Diego Armando Maradona.
The final ‘Chaaaaampiooooons’ can be heard from outside the stadium. When you experience this, you have a smile even before you play.
Reina commented on which game he would like to experience again.
I would like to play the 2007 Champions League final again. To win it. In football, it’s often not the best who win. We were the best in that one and we lost. In 2005, Milan were the best and they lost. But that’s the beauty of football.
Normally, there is always a rematch, but I didn’t get one, even though at the time I thought I would experience another final. It was not the case.
He touched on if he could reach the final this year with the Biancocelesti.
It doesn’t cost anything to dream. The Champions League owes a cup to the Reina family. I hope that if it doesn’t come to me, maybe it will be my sons’ turn, maybe they will also play and win it for the three of us.
He spoke about why he has not played in France in his career.
There was the possibility, but Napoli didn’t want to sell me. I could have gone to Paris Saint Germain. Last summer there were some rumours, but in 2017 a real offer came in, which was sent back to the sender.
Finally, Reina spoke about the various coaches that he has worked with in his career.
I’m getting on very well with Inzaghi. With the goalkeepers playing more with their feet, football has evolved towards a game I like. I also had good moments with Sarri. At Liverpool there were times when we were competitive on all fronts.
But in terms of enjoyment, I would say that in Italy, at Napoli and Lazio, I was able to express myself at the highest level.
Have I ever spoken to Inzaghi about the final I lost to his brother? Yes, he once made a joke. Pippo did too, when we faced him. But I could only congratulate him and tell him that they had been lucky that time!