Name: Jonathan Reis
Bad Boy Turned Good
Jonathan Reis, the Brazilian forward, took his sweet time to get going at PSV. A club at which Samba imports have thrived in the past - Romario, Ronaldo and Alex - the Eindhoven side displayed thin patience with the former Atletico Mineiro front-man. Signed in 2007, a host of disciplinary problems prevented the 20-year-old from making it into the first-team squad until this season, a fact reflected in the player's relatively high shirt number, 42.
Reis was considered an enfant terrible when in 2008 following a foot injury, he removed his own cast against the orders of the club's staff. For this act, as well as his poor attitude, he was banished to Jong PSV. Former trainer, Huub Stevens, hinted at the player's potential to fall away from the top level of the game when he was quoted as saying, "We warned him already quite a while ago. We had planned a CAT scan to investigate the injury but he didn't show up. He needs to show us with Jong PSV if he understands what professional football is about.
"Everyone gets half a chance, including Jonathan. I must say that he has shut the door. I wonder if he will look for the key. We have repeatedly warned Jonathan, but I doubt whether it is all up to him and whether he wants to help."
That advice went unheeded, though, as four months later, Reis returned home late from a trip to Brazil after attending the funeral of his grandmother. Punishment again quickly followed with general manager, Jan Reker, stating that Reis was in danger of becoming a lost cause.
"We have decided to punish Jonathan for his behaviour," he said. He returned too late from Brazil. He came up with excuses about missing a cab, that he forgot to book a return flight, that kind of stuff. We had a serious conversation about his behaviour and it appeared as if he understood what we’re saying. However, it’s not the first time that we had a talk like this. We can only hope that it will work out between Jonathan and PSV.”
Some of that pessimism has dissipated somewhat this season, however. Entrenched at a club which had all but given up hopes of finding a star within him, Reis came out fighting. New coach, Fred Rutten is beginning to reap rewards that were beyond the capabilities of Stevens and co., namely getting football of the wayward starlet. He has done so by keeping a tight check. Only a month ago was Reis given access to the senior dressing room on training days and these restrictions seem to have given the striker a hunger and motivation to do well.
He has played 12 times in the Eredivisie so far this season, displaying fine technique and decent shooting capabilities; he has three goals to his name in domestic competition. However, the Europa League has given the youngster a platform on which to showcase his talents.
He has proven himself a vital asset for Rutten in continental competition. His four goals to date earned PSV seven of their 14 points in the group stage. A quick-fire double against Sparta Prague provoked a draw while Copenhagen have also been on the receiving end of winning contributions from the Contagem-born hitman.
On his day and in form, Reis is the most capable attacker at PSV and is currently fighting it out with Ola Toivonen and Danny Koevermans for the lead striker role. Should his new-found diligence continue, expect only one winner in that battle.