There are many memories that, suddenly, invade my memory when thinking about something that does not seem possible, and that is that José Antonio Reyes he is no longer among us. The first is that of the first preseason that we did in Sevilla, in which one of the youngest players was the one that offered the best data in the endurance tests. On the other hand, it was not the most visible, because any quality seemed small compared to a huge talent. Technically, he was a gifted who had learned everything on the street and who was equal to play with his boots or with those of a partner, although they had two more numbers. Often he had to be reminded of the convenience of bandaging his ankles, because he practically never did. In speed, nobody in the trainings supported his change of pace. If his progression had been more stable, we would have seen Reyes things that we see in Messi .
What I say is not exaggerated. In those years, he made goals within reach of very few, such as one against Espanyol in which he raffled defenses in an impressive slalom until reaching Kameni . We speak of defenses like Pochettino . Puyol himself ended up hallucinating in a match that we played at Camp Nou at midnight.
Reyes was then the leader of an emerging generation that I was fortunate to have in my hands and in which I always believed, because who bets on a young man, plays the winner. We had Reyes and Antonio Puerta , both on the left and both of such quality that we had a summit, with Manolo Jiménez and Pablo Blanco , to decide what we were doing. The solution was to delay Puerta, as lateral, so they could play together. None is already with us. The destination is capricious.
Then came Jesús Navas and Sergio Ramos , but they were also Antoñito and Capel , a batch that came very well to grow with veterans like Pablo Alfaro or Javi Navarro . At that time, betting on the quarry was a conviction but also a necessity. The economic situation of the club did not allow anything else, so, together with Monchi , we imposed the profile of soccer player at zero cost. As those talents grew, it was evident that Sevilla would sell them.
Reyes was the first big sale made by the club, in this case Arsenal. Despite the pain that caused in the fans, it was necessary for Sevilla to move forward. The president met Monchi and me, and we understood it. Revenues grew in terms of clauses, such as the number of games played, which Reyes completed in his first years in the Premier, in which he won one of the most brilliant championships with Wenger’s Arsenal . The money he left was key to what he left behind.
I’m from Utrera, where he was also Reyes, and I know his family well, humble. Wherever he went, he left friends, because he was very happy, and also very much his own. The condolences received from football people everywhere are proof of that. With Reyes, a sense of humor was never lacking in the dressing room. I had that optimism that I always want to see in my players. It is the lesson of life that leaves us. Rest in peace.