Breaking News —
Seville, May 30 . .- On June 1 a year ago, the calendar marked by the game of the season, the final of the Champions League that Liverpool and Tottenham were going to play that night in Madrid, dawned, but at noon a news story jumped that shook the world of football: José Antonio Reyes died in a traffic accident.
Close to turning 36 years old, which he would have done on September 1, Reyes had not entered the call of Extremadura, which he had arrived a few months earlier, for the match they had the next day at Ramón de Carranza, the penultimate league matchday in Segunda.
That morning, after confirming that he would not play on Sunday in Cádiz, he left Almendralejo for his native Utrera in the company of two cousins with whom he was in the town of La Paz.
A road trip of just under two hundred kilometers in one of his cars -another of his great passions-, a Mercedes with which he intended to be home hours later.
But the routine trip ended in tragedy shortly before noon and cut off the life of a footballer who was reluctant to stop offering the magic he showed in his boots from a very young age.
The Civil Guard reported that a car had suffered a road exit at kilometer 18 of the A-376, in the direction of Utrera, in the municipality of Alcalá de Guadaíra.
Shortly after, with a buzz of rumors and comments that ran on social networks, Sevilla FC sent the fateful message on their Twitter account: “We could not offer worse news. Our beloved youth player José Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic accident . Rest in peace”.
The footballer and a 23-year-old cousin died and the other was seriously injured, although happily today he is recovering from his injuries.
Reyes was one of the most precocious players given by the very prolific Sevilla youth academy and among his achievements is that of being the youngest Sevilla player to debut with the team in Primera, at 16 years old.
Open and jovial, he left affection and good memories in all the clubs he went through, including the Spanish team, and from the first moment in which his death was known, signs of condolences and regret followed from all areas, not only of soccer, also of sport in general, culture or politics.
Sevilla President José Castro, a Utreran like him, called Reyes a “legend” of the club and a “great person”, and offered the Sánchez Pizjuán to install his burning chapel.
Sergio Ramos, captain of Real Madrid, also a youth squad for Sevilla and a personal friend, assured that he was “broken” and “destroyed”.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation announced the postponement of the games of the then-called Liga 1/2/3 that were to be played that Sunday.
In the preliminary stages of the ‘Champions’ final, which Liverpool eventually won by defeating Tottenham 2-0, at the Atlético de Madrid stadium, a respectful minute of silence was observed in memory of Jose Antonio Reyes, also exatlético and linked during his career with another English team, Arsenal.
That jump to the team then trained by the Frenchman Arsene Wenger was his first farewell to Seville, motivated by the lack of liquidity of the Andalusian club and the great projection of the Utreran, who showed his skills in the sports city from a young age, in which he stood out for his speed, overflow and his passer qualities.
Reyes’ meteoric rise led Seville, then chaired by José María del Nido and in the midst of modernization, to discard it midway through the 2003-04 season.
Reyes, barely having left his town, went abroad in tears, but with the conviction that it was the best for his career and for Sevilla.
His breakthrough in English football continued with a period of continuous changes of scenery, but always leaving his mark as a different and classy player.
Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid and Portuguese Benfica were his next steps until he returned to Seville in the 2011-12 season to cover the second stage at his usual club, when the team from Seville had already earned a name in Europe.
Reyes was in Seville until the 2015-16 campaign and was again fired with great affection by the fans, to the point that his face was one of those of the giant mural that appeared on the façade of Sánchez Pizjuán, now in full phase of remodeling.
The skilled Sevillian playmaker tried at Espanyol, where he also left his stamp and affection, and already in the final stretch of his career he landed in Córdoba in LaLiga 1/2/3 to help him get him out of a possible descent, to which contributed successfully.
Reyes, 35 years old but wanting to continue enjoying a passion that had given him fame and money, had no problem trying in China, at the Xinjiang Tianshan, where he was a few months before returning to Spain and signing for the Estremadura.
It was a traffic accident that had to tragically withdraw a player that remains in history and with data such as being the one with the most trophies of the Europa League champion has (five) -three with Sevilla and two with Atlético – plus a League title with Arsenal, another with Real Madrid or having been a World Cup player with the team in Germany 2006.
But, a year after his death, what nobody forgets and still has very much in mind is the smile and kindness of a person who always gave it to all who lived with him.