728: Jose Antonio Reyes 1983-2019
The 728th first team player, Reyes was an Arsenal Invincible who, after leaving, picked up an amazing array of winners’ medals.
Born on 1 September 1983 in Ultrera, Spain, Jose starting at Sevilla where he became the youngest player in that club’s history as during the 1999-2000 season he appeared at the age of 16.
He joined the Gunners from Sevilla in a deal worth about £17m in January 2004. His debut came on 1 February 2004 against Manchester City as a substitute in a 2-1 home win. Consequently Jose was part of the ‘Invincibles’ side that went through the 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten, becoming the first Spaniard to gain a Premier League winners’ medal. During the Invincible league run he made 13 appearances, scoring twice. The goal at Portsmouth being a crucial equaliser as the unbeaten run was looking threatened on the south coast.
In the 2005 FA Cup final, as Arsenal beat Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium in a penalty shootout, he became only the second player to be sent off in an FA Cup final. He played in the 2006 Champions League final, coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 loss to Barcelona. This proved to be his final competitive match for the club, as after two pre-season games he was loaned to Real Madrid for the 2006-07 season. Reyes scored twice as a substitute in the final game of the season to enable Real to narrowly win the La Liga title.
Reyes appeared a total of 110 times for Arsenal, scoring 23 goals, and officially left the Gunners in the summer of 2007, moving to Atletico Madrid winning the Europa Cup twice with them, before returning to Sevilla. There he won the Europa Cup, guided by future Arsenal manager Unai Emery, a further three times and in the process became the most decorated player in Europa Cup history with a total of five winners’ medals – in 2009-10, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-15 & 2015-16. After short spells at Espanyol, Cordoba and Chinese side Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard, he joined Spanish second division side Extremadura in January 2019.
During his career he represented Spain 21 times, scoring four goals.
Jose Antonio Reyes died in a car crash on 1 June 2019 in Ultrera, Spain.
Daily Express – photo