Reina: We're back where we belong after darkest days in club's history


Once foreign players have become reasonably fluent in English, it is always interesting to note which idiomatic phrases they pick up. Jose "Pepe" Reina must have been listening to former Liverpool stalwart Mark Lawrenson, for he is fond of the pundit's "happy days".

It is not a phrase that either would have used of the club in the past few years, struggling with ownership issues that were reflected on the field; no trophy has been won since Reina's saves in a penalty shoot-out delivered the 2006 FA Cup.

Now, after five barren seasons, missing out on European football for the first time in a decade and sacking a manager after the shortest reign in the club's history, happy days may just be here again. It will be a happy Sunday if they can defeat Cardiff City today at Wembley, a venue the club have not frequented since it was rebuilt, then reopened in 2007.

"Things have got better and this is a trophy we can win, so happy days," Reina says. "We always hoped we could return in a positive way and get ourselves back on the trophies track. We need to be patient, but we also needed better players to be competitive. The owners thought so too and they spent good money in the summer.

"As a result we have made some improvement. We are in the right way now. We want to be fighting for titles, fighting to reach Wembley. I think steps have been taken to try to get the club back to where it belongs and that is basically why I am here today, and the same goes for many of my team-mates. We believe in this project and hopefully it will deliver some trophies."

As Reina implies, confidence in the "project" of the previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett was never deep nor widespread. "It was a dark moment in Liverpool's history," he says of the period in which they sank from having finished second in the Premier League to falling out of the top six.

"It was one of the worst moments in Liverpool's whole history. Fortunately the new owners came along with better ideas and a new project on the table. We all believe in it and I hope the supporters do. I think they understood it needed a bit of patience but with luck we may be able to start to deliver [today]."

Reina admits that had the dark days continued much longer, "I probably wouldn't still be here". But here he is, the undisputed No 1 at Anfield, almost seven years after Rafa Benitez ruthlessly brought him in from Villarreal in 2005 to displace Jerzy Dudek, who had just helped the team win the European Cup.

It would have been reasonable to assume that an FA Cup win in his first season would be the first of many trophies, yet he has remained merely on a par with David James in terms of honours, trailing behind Dudek, Sander Westerveld and the Sixties hero Tommy Lawrence, let alone those serial winners Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar.

Then there is a manager who consciously presents himself as heir to a proud club history – he won the League Cup four seasons in a row. Reina says of Kenny Dalglish: "It was a great appointment from the new owners and it was important. We all know what Kenny means to Liverpool. He's been the greatest of all time for us and that's why the people believe even more in the project and why people will have a little more patience, that Kenny can deliver us titles as he did when he was a player and when he was a manager the first time."

Reina might have been expected to hold the League Cup in as little regard as, say, Arsène Wenger does. But there are echoes of a Steven Gerrard or a Jamie Carragher when he says: "It is a massive fixture for us. A trophy is a trophy, all day long".

Keeping up with the keepers

Tommy Lawrence (1957-71, 390 appearances)

League 1964, 1966; FA Cup 1965

Ray Clemence (1967-81, 665 apps)

European Cup 1977, 1978, 1981; Uefa Cup 1973, 1976; League 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980; FA Cup 1974; League Cup 1981

Bruce Grobbelaar (1981-94, 628 apps)

European Cup 1984; League 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990; FA Cup 1986, 1989, 1992; League Cup 1982, 1983, 1984

David James (1992-99, 277 apps)

League Cup 1995

Sander Westerveld (1999-2001, 103 apps)

Uefa Cup 2001; FA Cup 2001; League Cup 2001

Jerzy Dudek (2001-07, 186 apps)

European Cup 2005; FA Cup 2006*; League Cup 2003

Pepe Reina (2005-current, 342 apps)

FA Cup 2006

*unused substitute

The road to Wembley

Cardiff City

1st round (a) v Oxford Utd: won 3-1 aet

2nd round (h) v Huddersfield Town: won 5-3 aet

3rd round (h) v Leicester City: drew 2-2 (aet; won 7-6 on pens)

4th round (h) v Burnley: won 1-0

Quarter-final (h) v Blackburn Rovers: won 2-0

Semi-final 1st leg (a) v Crystal Palace: lost 1-0.

2nd leg (h): won 1-0 (1-1 agg; aet; won 3-1 on pens)


1st round: bye

2nd round (a) v Exeter City: won 3-1

3rd round (a) v Brighton & Hove Albion: won 2-1

4th round (a) v Stoke City: won 2-1

Quarter-final (a) v Chelsea: won 2-0

Semi-final 1st leg (a) v Manchester City: won 1-0.

2nd leg (h): drew 2-2 (won 3-2 agg)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth