Jose Antonio Reyes, Who was part of Arsenal’s historic ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04, has died in a car accident aged just 35, Spanish club Sevilla have announced. Reyes who was with Spanish second division Extremadura for whom he played for just 2 weeks ago represented his boyhood club Sevilla 250 times scoring 40 Goals. He has also played for great names including Real and Atletico Madrid. A minute’s silence will be observed at Saturday’s Champions League final as a mark of respect to Reyes, who was the first Spaniard to win the Premier League.
Reyes signed for Arsenal during the January transfer window of the 2003–04 campaign for £10.5 million, he played 21 times and scored 5 goals in the remainder of that season including two in the penultimate two games of the season that helped keep as undefeated Arsenal won the title without losing. He played for the gunners for another 2 seasons winning the FA Cup: (2004–05) FA Community Shield (2004) and reaching the UEFA Champions League Final in 2005–06. In 2004–05 he managed to score in each of the first six games. He was named as the Premier League Player of the Month for August. Reyes featured heavily in the Gunners’ 2005–06 Champions League run, against, among others, Real Madrid, Juventus F.C. and Villarreal CF, coming on as a substitute in the final against FC Barcelona, which Arsenal lost 1–2. In total he played 110 times for the gunners scoring 23 Goals playing alongside greats including Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabreges who are among many people who paid tribute to Reyes.
Henry, called him a “wonderful player, superb team-mate and exceptional human being”. “I wish his family and friends continued strength and courage to get through this difficult time. #takenfartoosoon”, he added on Twitter
Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas called Reyes his “first great friend in the world of professional football”, and added “Our connection in the field was also special.”I always say that you have been one of the greatest talents in our football and I know that I am not wrong. “Two days ago I was talking about you in an interview, it might be a sign, who knows, to remember you, my great friend.
Current Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who Reyes played under at Sevilla, paid tribute by saying: “Deeply sad and speechless after knowing this tragic news. I’ll never forget your magic and your smile.
After leaving Arsenal Reyes joined Giants Real Madrid on loan where he scored 7 goals in 38 appearances wining the la liga title, he then joined Real’s neighbours Atletico where he spent the next 4 seasons winning 2 UEFA Europa Leagues (2009–10, 2011–12) UEFA Super Cup (2010) UEFA Intertoto Cup (2007) and was a Copa del Rey runner-up in 2009–10.
He had a loan spell with Benfica whilst at Atletico before returning home to Sevilla in 2012 where he was part of the side managed by Emery that won 3 back to back Ueafa Europa Leagues and in the 2013-14 campaign scored in the second leg of their last-16 win over city rivals Betis. , in the final of the following season’s tournament, reportedly his final game for the club, he captained and assisted Carlos Bacca’s first of two goals as the team came from behind to defeat FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3–2 in Warsaw. However, he remained, starting as skipper in the ensuing Super Cup against Barcelona in Tbilisi and scoring a goal as his side came from 1–4 down to take the game to extra time, but lose nonetheless.
Reyes won his first full cap for Spain on 6 September 2003, coming on as a half-time substitute during a 3–0 friendly win against Portugal in Guimarães. On 11 October, again coming from the bench, this time for Vicente, he scored twice in the final three minutes of a 4–0 win in Armenia for the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifiers, but was left out of Iñaki Sáez’s final squad.
Two years later, Reyes was picked for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but only appeared once in four matches – the 1–0 group stage win against Saudi Arabia, with Spain already qualified in first place. He was again overlooked for the victorious Euro 2008 tournament, as manager Luis Aragonés preferred the likes of David Silva and Santi Cazorla on the wings.