“Because of the mental block I had, I hung up the phone” | Relief

The modern history of Seville is full of successes, dates that remain in the memory of a fan who even finds it difficult to remember those of all the finals that brought European metal to the shores of Guadalquivir.. A continuous ecstasy that, for nearly two decades, has allowed special fans like Nervion fans to accompany their fans to countless endings that represent those indelible memories that accumulate in memory. Like a continuous dream from which you didn’t want to wake up, although life always places stones in the way. The most unexpected and painful. Those who will not hesitate to ensure that all these memories are erased with one stroke of the pen for not surviving two dates marked by fire and ashes in Seville.

All these moments of joy were marked by two tragic events. Two of his children, those who grew up with his team, bearing the shield of their Seville on their chests, with the feeling of carrying on their shoulders the greatest honor, died tragically, leaving a wound that is unlikely to heal. be able to heal. Jose and Antonio. Antonio and Jose. Door and kings. Looks at the sky, trying to find an answer to something as integral to life as death itself.

This Saturday marks five years since that terrible event on June 1, 2019, when Sevillesmo and the world of football woke up shocked by the news of the road accident involving José Antonio Reyes. Because Reyes was a Sevillesta, but he belonged to everyone. His eternal smile was the perfect companion and description of this footballer, capable of doing incredible things with the ball. Jose Castro, then president, received a call that left his body frozen. His cousin, a member of the Utrera Civil Defense, informed him that his fellow countryman and former player had died in an accident. A chain of calls begins, during which the pain without medication spread among his relatives and friends.

The club where he was born as a footballer, Sevilla, was responsible for spreading the news through social networks. “We can’t give worse news. Our beloved youth player, Jose Antonio Reyes, died in a traffic accident. May he rest in peace,” his statement said. “I learned about it quickly. I remember it was Saturday and I had lunch planned. My wife was retiring. We agreed on a protocol and it was clear to us that we must stick to acknowledging the sad news. further,” explains Jesus Gomez, director of public relations at the time.

“The impact of this news has been brutal nationally and has also had a profound impact internationally. He left such a mark at Arsenal that when he returned to Seville they tried to talk to him a lot, to offer him something as part of the huge ambassador program that they have. You know, Jose didn’t care about these things, but he did something about them,” adds Jesus Gomez. “José has always had a special relationship with the media. Perhaps in the first stage, when he didn’t have as much social media and fewer journalists, he was easier to access. He always said yes to everything, but in the end…” says Jesus with a slight sad smile.

Previously, many people who were important in José’s life got hit, such as Pablo Blanco, the man who recruited that boy with long hair who was hurting the ball at just 9 years old. “On June 1, I watched a military parade. I walked past Paseo Colon. I live in the neighborhood and went there because I have a military family. While watching it, Monchi called me, which surprised me. “Pablo, I have some bad news to tell you,” he told me. What happened, Ramon? “Reyes died in a traffic accident,” he replied (he becomes emotional). I told him this couldn’t be true. After hanging up the phone, I went home. I saw that the news began to be published. I don’t know how many people asked me what happened,” he recalls. People who knew this man from Utrera closely still get a lump in their throat when they talk about him.

Quickly, as if he were still enjoying running around the pitch, he tells us about the two young players who form an almost unbeatable tandem in the sky: “His speed, his driving, his long dribble and his goal. He was gifted at football.” Antonio was a thin player of average height, more hardworking. With Jose Antonio he acted with amazing clarity: fast, strong, goalscorer… Spectacular. With that long hair and that football, he turned heads wherever we went. “The one with the hair is the good one,” we have always heard. It was different from anything we had, and that generation was very good. We were European champions in the Nike Premier Cup. Compared to Puerto, they clearly won. He even defended himself with art. He liked to roam around from behind and face. As soon as he caught the ball in the middle of the field, he began to look for a dribble. I had everything.”

“Puerta began to play an important role when Luis de la Fuente took over the youth team. Luis played in the same position and moved to left back.. There he began to play more in the starting lineup, and later moved to the main team. Juande processes it there. We had two excellent defenders: Antonio and Adriano. He begins to grow, he gets stronger. He took a huge step and added many kilograms of strength. He would have broken all records if God had not taken him away,” he recalls. His two children left early. Too much. And it still hurts him.

After former President José Castro, the architect of Seville’s dreams, Monchi, became the second to learn of the fatal accident. “That day I was in San Fernando, at my mother’s house. Pepe Castro called me and said, “Hey, Jose had an accident, he committed suicide.” I was completely blocked and I said, “Excuse me?” I hung up. Because of the mental block I had, I hung up. I called him again and asked: “Pepe, what did you tell me?” Yes, yes, yes, he just got into an accident, and the car is even still there. From then on, I was completely stunned and tried to call those people who I knew had close relationships with him: I called Joaquin Caparros, Pablo Blanco… I called many people I knew, obviously, This shocked him, and he needed to know this news. And from then on, everything was crazy, which I still sometimes can’t get out of because everything was so hard and so negative. Also in my case it coincided with the anniversary of my father’s death. That’s why I was in San Fernando, to be with my mother. It was a constant shock. I went to Seville and well, everything that happened there, all the visits, interactions with Jose’s family and friends, and little jokes with all the people who came. “They were two days, both the first and the day of the funeral, very difficult.”

“His appearance in the first team was something we had been expecting since he was little. Those of us who were in the sports city saw him play with that mane, in the youth teams, with that projection, with that cadet team, European champions.” .. I experienced it first hand because he made his debut in Zaragoza, he was a delegate. The guy who comes out next to the cape is me, a delegate year student. Then everything happened very quickly, because he had amazing congenital conditions. I think respect for Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas or Antonio Puerta, who were everything, respect for the good players he gave to the Sevilla youth team, such as Jesuli, Velasco or Marchena, Salva, Jose was the most important natural talent, which he gave into the quarry. And look, good players have grown here,” continues the player from San Fernando.

Early on, Reyes was very close to another young player, Antonito. A relationship that, as in the case of Utrerano, has persisted over time. On the eve of the pilgrimage to Rocío, the former Nervion striker, immersed in preparations, also received a call on his phone that stopped time: “I found out about it because a journalist friend of mine called me and told me. I quickly called Monchi. “Gordo, it’s true, Jose is gone.” I could not believe it. I was shocked. Couldn’t speak. It was a very big blow, one of the hardest in my life. We were together recently. “He was the godfather of my campus, and now he’s not there anymore.”

From young player to young player. From a teammate in the reserve team to someone who looked at him from below with admiring eyes, not suspecting that he, too, would become a legend. Sergio Ramos remembers for Relevo that Saturday, June 1: “I think about it and still don’t believe it. I knew about it before the news broke because we had a lot of people in common. It still hurts when I think about it. It devastated me and is a terrible loss for all of us who loved him. The image of that guy who already stood out in the sports city came to mind. He was older than me, from another country, and the truth is that the younger ones noticed him, he was incredible even as a child. His ability on the ball, his speed, his flow. Incredible”.

Tough as a football player, huge as a person

It is normal that for every question you ask about José Antonio Reyes, everyone fills their mouths with stories about his dribbling, those conditions or those titles he won as a protagonist. But in every answer or memory, immediately and without question, José’s character enters the scene, as if the influence of his personality were proportional to his outstanding skill with the ball.

“Jose was a very decent guy, a funny guy, a very outgoing guy who could make you angry and make you laugh at the same time. Very close and very open,” says Monchi. “Reyes has always been a very happy guy, given his living conditions. His mother was very caring and protective of him. He suffered from food, and most of all he liked sandwiches. He was very naughty in everyday life,” admits Pablo Blanco.

One facet of the joker that Sergio Ramos emphasizes: “Jose was a great guy, humble, loving, a good person… and he liked to be funny. He joked all day, making us all laugh. He created a very good atmosphere in the dressing room.” But behind this facade was a generous guy who became the support of his family. He was extremely generous. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He lived. Loyal to football and to his family to the end,” admits Antonito. Five years since saying goodbye to his eternal idol. Five years without the pearl of Utrera. Five years without the legend of the eternal smile. Five years without Jose. And how they weigh.

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