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Pepe Reina

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    Spanish goalkeeper Jose (Pepe) Reina was signed by Liverpool from Villarreal in July 2005, with manager Rafael Benítez hailing him as “the best goalkeeper in Spain”. For the 2005′“06 season Reina immediately took over as Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper, relegating 2005 Champions League hero Jerzy Dudek to the bench.

    The season turned out to be a successful one for Liverpool as they improved upon the previous season’s league placing and won the FA Cup. It was also a huge success personally for Reina as he notched up various new Liverpool records.

    On 3 December 2005 Reina kept his sixth consecutive clean sheet against Wigan in the Premiership to break the Liverpool club record for successive clean sheets in the Premiership era. He surpassed David James’ record of five games from the 1996′“97 season. Reina’s incredible run ended at eight league games when Everton’s James Beattie headed past him into the Liverpool net in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over their Merseyside rivals on 28 December 2005.

    On 16 April 2006 Reina celebrated his 50th appearance for Liverpool by keeping a clean sheet against Blackburn. As a result he holds a Liverpool record for the fewest number of goals conceded by a ‘keeper in their first fifty games. The previous record was held by Ray Clemence in 1970′“71 for conceding only 32 goals, while Pepe conceded only 29.

    In May 2006 Reina was awarded the Premier League’s golden Gloves award for keeping 20 clean sheets in the 2005-06 season. His performances put him ahead of Manchester United’s Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar (18) and the previous year’s winner Petr Cech of Chelsea .

    The end of his first season at Anfield also saw him crucially save two penalties as Liverpool won the FA Cup against West Ham at the Millennium Stadium after the match had finished 3-3.

    After 100 League appearances he had kept an incredible 55 clean sheets.

    - RMP, April 2007

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