Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rafa : Reina sure to be a KOP Legend

Rafael Benitez has spoken about the quality of Pepe Reina and claimed his stopper doesn't get the credit he deserves.

The Spaniard's clean sheet against Aston Villa on Sunday meant he broke legendary stopper Ray Clemence's record of 100 shut outs in all competitions in the fewest games.

Reina achieved his in just 197 games while Clemence got his century from 200 appearances.

The Reds boss admits he is very pleased to have the 26-year-old as his last line of defence.

"People don't realise how good Pepe is," Benitez told

"If you ask me about Clemence I will tell you he was a fantastic goalkeeper and a legend. I think in the future people will know just how good Pepe is as a goalkeeper.

"He gives the team a lot of confidence and don't forget he is a young player so I think he can still improve."

Kop legend Bruce Grobbelaar this week even went as far as claiming Reina could score a goal himself one day from his own penalty area, and Benitez said: "It depends on the type of pitch. If it's a hard pitch maybe because his accuracy is very good."

Meanwhile, the boss admitted he was delighted with his side's performance against Aston Villa which saw his team close the gap at the top of the table to just one point behind Manchester United heading into the international break.

"I was really pleased with my team," said Rafa.

"People said I wasn't smiling but I was really happy and I can guarantee you that I was really proud.

"Goal difference could be important so we knew before this game we needed to score goals if we wanted to reduce the difference. We are now in a better position but we still need to keep playing well and scoring goals.

"For me we can still improve. The team is playing with confidence but I still think we can improve.

"We have to approach every game now thinking about just to win and get the three points."

Asked if the international break has come at a bad time, Benitez said: "Yes, you know my thoughts and I am really disappointed but you cannot change the situation.

"Hopefully the players will come back with the same mentality and we can keep the momentum. We will talk with them while they are away and hopefully they will all come back fit."

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