Sevilla and Arsenal will remember the late Jose Antonio Reyes when they face off in the Champions League this evening. Over four years have passed since the former winger tragically passed away following a car crash in southern Spain.
Reyes was just 35 when his car overturned and burst into flames in June 2019. He and his cousin Jonathan died, while another cousin Juan Manuel Calderon suffered severe burns while trying to save the pair.
Reyes served Arsenal and Sevilla with distinction, making 360 appearances between both clubs. Tonight will be the first competitive meeting between the teams since 2007 and the first since his passing.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta visited a memorial dedicated to Reyes at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Monday. It promises to be a poignant evening as two teams come together to remember one of their former heroes.
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Reyes’ son plays for Madrid
Only last week was it announced that Reyes’ son, Jose Antonio Reyes Jr, had signed for Real Madrid. The 16-year-old revealed the news on his personal Instagram page.
He has followed in his father’s footsteps, as he also had a loan spell at Real for the 2006/07 season. Reyes has already made his debut for Los Blancos in a youth game, posting in-match pictures on a recent post.
Upon signing for Real, he wrote: “It is a very special moment for me I have signed my first professional contract with Real Madrid and I want to thank the club for its trust and my family for its daily support. I will continue working and doing my best to go very far.”
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Reyes and Arteta ‘like brothers’
Arteta didn’t join Arsenal as a player until four years after he left the club. But the pair went much further back than that.
They played together for the Spain under-21 side between 2002 and 2003. Reyes was also a team-mate of Arsenal sporting director Edu during his time with the Gunners.
Reyes’ father Francisco has revealed how both Arteta and Edu viewed Reyes as a “brother”. He told the Mail: “Edu and (Robert) Pires used to call him ‘brother’, and he’d call them ‘brother’.
“Jose and Arteta used to sleep in the same room when they were away with Spain. They were like brothers, too.”
Arteta pays tribute
Arteta opened up on his friendship with Reyes in Monday’s press conference and hopes to make him proud tonight. He said: “I have great memories. He was a fantastic character with a very special personality and had an incredible football talent.
“At that age, I can’t recall a better player than him, he had everything. He played for both clubs and he is part of our history in a big way because he was part of the Invincibles as well.
“Hopefully he’s up there and feeling proud of both clubs, and tomorrow will be a very special night for him.”
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