Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina's complicated pre-match rituals feature in the latest of our series chronicling the extraordinary power of beliefEven in a profession notorious for weird rituals, Napoli and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina takes things to extremes. He revealed: "If I do anything even a little bit differently it could stop things from turning out the way I want them to. Once I find something that works for me, I stick to it no matter how hard it can sometimes be." For Reina, the complicated process begins the night before a game, when he washes down a couple of cheese and ham toasties with a glass of white wine.
|"If I do anything even a little bit differently it could stop things from turning out the way I want them to"
"It's not what fitness experts would advocate, but it helps me sleep,” he insists. Bizarrely, Reina has also recently taken to wearing one of Mario Balotelli's old shirts in bed (after becoming the first keeper to save a penalty from the Italian). On the day of a home match, after getting suited and booted, Reina drives to the nearest petrol station and fills up, even if he doesn't actually need any fuel. "The cashier often gives me a funny look," when Reina puts in just a few pennies - or cents - into his tank. "I just have to keep it full to the brim," he explains.
"It's not what fitness experts would advocate, but it helps me sleep"
As kick-off approaches, Reina insists on scoffing the same pre-match meal (pasta and fish), then showers before the coach's team talk, and visits the toilet three times "to relax". After running out onto the pitch last, he bangs his studs against the right-hand post, touches the crossbar, bangs his studs against the opposite post and starts his stretching routine. Having expended such an inordinate amount of thought and energy on preparing for the game, it's a minor miracle that Reina actually has any energy left to focus on the match.
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