Full name: José Antonio Reyes Calderón
Left Atlético in: 2012
Currently playing for: Sevilla
Squad number: 10
DoB: 1 September 1983
Buyout clause: €20m
Previous clubs: Sevilla (2000-2004) Arsenal (2004-07) Real Madrid (2006-07 on loan) Benfica (2008-09 on loan)
José Antonio Reyes may have worn the wrong colours for most of his career; he may have donned the jersey of Sevilla; he may even have pulled on the white of Real Madrid; but with a family name ending with Calderón, there was never any doubt where he’d end up playing at some point in his career.
Reyes is one that divides los Rojiblancos everywhere, a skilful player yet to hit the heights expected of him when he burst onto the scene with Sevilla as an 18 year old. Yet it’s without question that he has just had his best season in the red and white of Atlético Madrid.
Reyes rose through the ranks in the Sevilla youth setup, before eventually breaking into the first team. It wasn’t long before Sevilla was promoted from the Segunda in 2001 and it was soon Reyes’ time to shine on the big stage. He established himself as a versatile attacking midfielder and with 22 goals in 80 odd appearances for the Andalusian outfit, it was only a matter of time before some of the bigger clubs were interested.
Sevilla’s club president was facing extreme pressure from the supporters not to sell Reyes to another Spanish side, so it was to Arsenal that the youngster went in the middle of the 2003/04 season for a transfer fee that could have risen to almost £17.5million (€21million).
Although winning the English Premier League in his first season, Reyes endured a troubled time in London. Amidst some fantastic performances were the constant reports that the young forward was homesick, and matters were made worse when he was tricked into telling a Spanish radio station that he hated life at Arsenal and wanted to return to Spain.
He briefly put the controversies behind him and signed a six-year contract at Highbury, before starring in Arsenal’s surge to the UEFA Champions League final, turning in stellar performances against the likes of Juventus, Villarreal and Real Madrid. However, an unhappy Reyes was benched for the final against Barcelona, which the Catalans won 2-1.
After making just 69 appearances for Arsenal, in which he scored 16 goals, Reyes seemed to be looking for any way out of London. He refused to play in a Champions League qualifying game for Arsenal so as to not be ‘cup-tied’ for another major European club. Near the end of the 2006 summer transfer window, a swap deal was agreed between Real Madrid and Arsenal. Reyes and Julio Baptista were both to swap clubs on a year-long loan deal.
Reyes did well for Real Madrid and always hoped to be signed permanently, but a deal had yet to be finalised. On the final game of the 2006/07 season, Reyes came off the bench to score two goals, handing Real Madrid a 2-0 win and the La Liga title.
Unable to agree a deal between the two clubs, Reyes returned to Arsenal for the start of the 2007/08 season although it wasn’t long before he was on the move again. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that Atlético were in talks to sign the player and that a move was imminent. It was later announced that he would be moving back to the red and white half of Madrid for a fee close to £10m (€12m).
Reyes caused controversy after moving to Atlético, having previously won the La Liga championship for arch-rivals Real. He told the club’s website “I’ve wanted to play here since the club first showed an interest in me when I was 13. It’s a special day for me to be able to wear this shirt.”
The 23 year old had a tough first season at Atlético, failing to get on the scoresheet in 26 league appearances. Maxi Rodriguez and Simao were often preferred instead of the Spaniard, who left for Benfica for the following season on loan.
Reyes returned to Atlético for the 2009/10 season and scored his first goal; a scorcher from long range against Vallodolid. He broke into the first team ahead of Maxi Rodriguez and continued to produce good performances, helping Rojiblancos everywhere forget he was once the enemy.
Firmly a part of los Colchonero’s first team, Reyes helped Atlético to the Copa del Rey final and eventually to the Europa League Championship, beating English side Fulham 2-1 in the final.
Three months later José Antonio scored the opening goal in Atlético’s 2-0 UEFA Super Cup win over Internazionale, to complete Atleti’s double.