Another Happy Reunion As Rafa Gets His Man – A Look At Pepe Reina

Everyone loves a happy reunion from time to time. There were some tear-stained cheeks in London when Chelsea’s prodigal son returned, the vagaries of life at the Bernabeu having seemingly mellowed him. Don’t call me the Special One, he said with a beatific smile, call me the Happy One. Well, another tear-jerker is set to take place in Naples as long-serving Liverpool custodian Pepe Reina rejoins his former Anfield gaffer Rafa Benitez.

Now, in theory, the reunion will be short-lived as Pepe’s move is but a loan deal ostensibly aimed at keeping Liverpool’s balance sheet healthy. But the reality of the matter is that barring a long-term injury or a spectacular drop in form, newly-signed 25 year-old Mignolet is not going anywhere soon. Reina’s reign as the Kop’s first-choice keeper has come to an end and any thoughts of him returning to depose the Belgian are useless flights of fancy. The rekindling of this Spanish bond is clearly not taking place under the happiest circumstances.

The hero in this bittersweet tale is Brendan Rodgers. Burning to save the now deposed number 1 the ignominy of watching next year’s World Cup from a couch or barstool, the Liverpool head coach crafted the loan arrangement. But this mercy mission may still end up being a labour in vain given Iker Casillas’ stranglehold on the Spain number 1 jersey. And given Casillas’ imminent return to the Real Madrid starting XII following the ‘Hounded One’s’ move back North after Spain spat him out. Still, I’m sure Reina would take watching his teammates attempt to defend their crown from the dugout than from home.

Since they last shared a dressing room four years ago life has continued on more or less an even keel for Pepe Reina while his former boss has endured some dramatic twists and turns. Even as Liverpool has slipped from the EPL top five and inches closer to the mid-table no-man’s-land, Pepe has retained his starting berth. With this in mind I guess the severing of ties and removal of Reina from the comfort zone he had cultivated over eight years can be taken as a sign of dissatisfaction in the Merseyside outfit’s boardroom with the status quo, or decline, I should say. Rafa’s recent past, by contrast, has seen him endure two sackings and win three trophies. If his two year contract at Napoli is not renewed, the heavily decorated coach may well become the Nicolas Anelka of football managers.     

Know of any other heart-warming footie reunions? Let us know.