Press Pass talks to Liverpool's Jose Reina
Since his arrival in England in 2005, Jose 'Pepe' Reina has established himself as one of the best 'keepers in the Premier League.
The diminutive Spaniard, hailed as the 'best in Spain' by Rafa Benitez, knocked Istanbul hero Jerzy Dudek off the top spot and went on to consolidate the goalkeeper's position for his own.
A string of impressive performances saw him concede only 29 goals in his first 50 games, breaking the previous record held by Ray Clemence and he continued to impress with some great penalty saves in the 2006 FA Cup win and later in the 2007 Champions League win over Chelsea.
This season, Reina has relegated Scott Carson to another loan move and even forced Dudek to move on (to Real Madrid), with his commanding form.
Press Pass caught up with the Liverpool stopper, to talk about his integration into the English game and his hopes for the coming season.
Q. Hi Pepe, what do you feel about the title race, do you think Liverpool have a good chance?
A. I hope so, it is a long race - I have said it many times and it is quite early to talk about that but all that we want is to be involved until the end and fight for that. We know it is going to be tough, there are good sides involved in the race but we are Liverpool and we have good quality to show that we can be contenders.
Q. At the very beginning of the season you started so well, it was fantastic but then there was a dip in form, what do you think happened?
A. I don't know. Something was wrong and we were not playing our best but that is normal, no? At any point of the season some teams will drop as we did and it is normal because you can't be at a high level all the time. Let's see if we can keep getting the results that we got in the last week and keep winning.
Q. Let's talk about the Champions League, the next game is against Porto at home. That is going to be a tough challenge - how do you think that will go?
A. It is a must win game for us. It has been really nice to get involved in the Champions League in the last three years, being one of the most important teams in Europe. All of our hopes are to get qualified once again and show the people that it was for something that we reached the final two times in the last three years.
Q. Jerzy Dudek was the star of Istanbul, does it make you feel that you want the Champions League even more? <
A. Of course, that is one of my dreams. My dad played one final and I played another one, neither one of us has won it so let's try and reach another final and finally win it.
Q. What do you think about Fernando Torres as a player?
A. He is a great player, a key player for us, an important striker around the world. Obviously for Spain and for Liverpool he is a really good player. He is still quite young and has a long way to go, but in the next few years he is going to become one of the most important strikers ever.
Q. As a fellow Spaniard have you helped him settle in to the English game?
A. As much as I can, it is important. I felt that way when I came with Fernando Morientes and Luis Garcia and people like this. For me it is ok because he is a nice guy and I have no problem with him.
Q. What are your expectations for Spain?
A. Go little by little because all of the time we are so optimistic before the tournaments and afterwards it is, excuse me, a pain in the ass when you go out and you go back that early. So let's respect the teams that will be involved in the Euro 2008 and see what we can do, but we are certainly not the favourites.
Q. You have another fantastic goalkeeper in the squad in Iker Casillas, it must be difficult to have such tough competition.
A. It is, that is why I only have eight caps. It is difficult when you when you compete against these kind of keepers, he plays for Real Madrid, he plays really well every week and I have no arguments at the moment to play ahead of him.
Q. How difficult is it to keep motivated when maybe you won't play?
A. Yeah, but it is always a present to represent your country even a second choice keeper like me in Spain. For me it is like winning the lottery whenever I receive a call from the national manager, so it is always beautiful when you represent your country and it is an honour.
Q. Going back to the league, you have got a few really big games coming up, Manchester United at Anfield. Do you feel the same sort of sense of rivalry because you are Spanish?
A. It is, it is bigger than in Spain's Real Madrid vs Barcelona I would say. For us it is one of the most important games of the season and for the fans even more so. If we can beat them at Anfield it is going to be a great day for our supporters.