JOSE Antonio Reyes, a Spanish soccer star who played for several of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Arsenal in the Premier League, died on Saturday in a car crash, his former club Sevilla FC announced.
He was 35.
The crash occurred before noon whilst Reyes was traveling on a road linking Utrera, his hometown, and Seville, the regional capital of Andalusia, the Spanish news agency EFE reported. Emergency services crews could not save his life, the report said.
Reyes was playing most recently for Extremadura in the Segunda Division. But he formerly played for Real Madrid and its crosstown rival, Atlético Madrid. Outside Spain, he had stints with Arsenal, the London powerhouse, and Benfica, the Lisbon club, as well as a Chinese team, Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard, where he played last year.
As a national team player, Reyes represented Spain in 21 games and was part of the squad that took part in the 2006 World Cup. By the time Spain became European champions, in 2008, and consolidated its dominance as the continent’s strongest team by winning the 2010 World Cup, he found himself sidelined from the squad by the emergence of other talented players like David Silva, one of the stars of Manchester City.
At age 16, he became the youngest player in Sevilla history to make his debut for the club in a game in Spain’s top league, for which he was picked by the team’s then coach, Joaquín Caparrós.
He stayed with the club for five years, and then returned in 2012 for a second stint that ended in 2016, during which he and his team won the Europa League three times. In between, he played for Arsenal, Real Madrid, Atlético, and on loan for the Lisbon club Benfica. After closing his Sevilla chapter, he joined the Catalan club of Espanyol before switching to the second Spanish division, playing for Córdoba.
Several former teammates and other soccer figures offered their condolences. Sergio Ramos, a former Sevilla player who is now one of the stars of Spain and Real Madrid, wrote on Twitter that he felt “broken, destroyed. I don’t have words.” UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, also wrote on Twitter that “Reyes will be sorely missed by the football world.” – New York Times