Soccer

Former Arsenal, Sevilla midfielder José Antonio Reyes killed in traffic accident at 35

AP, AFP-JIJI

Former Spain midfielder José Antonio Reyes, who won five Europa League titles and was part of Arsenal’s unbeaten “Invincibles” squad, has been killed in a traffic accident at the age of 35, Spanish club Sevilla announced on Saturday.

Sevilla and second-division club Extremadura, where Reyes played last season, both confirmed the death on Saturday.

“We couldn’t be confirming worse news. Beloved Sevilla star José Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision. Rest in peace,” Sevilla said on Twitter.

The emergency services in Andalusia and the authorities in the town where his family live, Utrera, said Reyes died in an accident on the main road from Sevilla to Utrera. They said another member of his family also died and a third person was injured.

Reyes also played for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid among other clubs in a professional career that spanned nearly 20 years, after making his debut for Sevilla as a 16-year-old.

He helped Arsenal go unbeaten through the 2003-04 season, scoring two crucial goals toward the end of the campaign to keep that record intact. He also won a Spanish League title with Real Madrid, and five Europa League crowns with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. He also made 21 appearances for Spain.

His former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry said he was “devastated” by the news.

“Wonderful player, superb team mate and exceptional human being,” Henry wrote on Twitter.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who like Reyes came up through the youth ranks at Sevilla and played alongside him for Spain and Madrid, also expressed his sadness.

“Broken. Shattered. I have no words,” Ramos wrote in Spanish on Twitter. “All the love to the family. We’ll always remember you, friend! RIP brother.”

Because of the death, the Spanish Football Federation postponed the seven second-division matches that were scheduled to be played on Sunday.

Reyes also played for Espanyol, Cordoba and Xinjian Tianshan in China before arriving at Extremadura this year as a free agent.

“With broken hearts we announce the news of our player Jose Antonio Reyes’ death in a car crash and we ask for you to pray for his soul,” Extremadura said.

Monchi, who overlapped with Reyes as a player at Sevilla and is now the club’s director of football, also tweeted his sadness and referred to wingback Antonio Puerta, who died of a cardiac arrest playing for Sevilla in 2007.

“Impossible news to believe, impossible to digest, that hard my God,” wrote Monchi. “What a left flank you are going to make, Antonio and you, up there.”

_