PEPE REINA is ready to break a European record which has stood at Liverpool for over three decades.
The Spaniard is expected to be picked for tomorrow night’s Europa League tie at home to Young Boys and, if selected, will overtake Ray Clemence’s goalkeeping appearance record in European competition for the Reds.
Clemence left Liverpool in 1981 after the European Cup final success over Real Madrid having played 80 games for the club on the continent.
Reina drew level with Clemence last month when he played in the Europa League defeat to Udinese at Anfield but has been forced to wait ever since for his chance to surpass the record.
The 30-year-old picked up an injury when on international duty in mid-October and only returned to action on Saturday when Liverpool defeated Wigan Athletic 3-0 in the Premier League.
Reina missed both home and away fixtures with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League but is now poised to return to the competition and set a new club landmark.
Had it not been for his injury, then Reina is likely to have already broken Clemence’s record after featuring in all but one of Liverpool’s previous Group A games.
Reina’s Liverpool debut coincidentally came in European action, in the European Cup in July 2005 when the defending champions played host to TNS in the Champions League first qualifying round first leg.
Clemence’s European adventure with Liverpool began in the Fairs Cup in September 1969.
The Reds played host to Dundalk in the first leg of the first round and Bill Shankly’s men swept aside the visitors to Anfield with a 10-0 win.
Indeed, Clemence did not concede his first European goal until over a year later when József Mucha scored for Ferencvaros in a first round tie in that season’s Fairs Cup.
Clemence went on to win three European Cups as Liverpool’s goalkeeper though one of his most memorable European performances came in the Rudolf Harbig Stadium in March 1976.
It was the first leg of Liverpool’s fourth round tie in the Uefa Cup with Dynamo Dresden and Clemence saved a penalty from Peter Kotte to make sure the game ended 0-0.
Liverpool won the return 4-1 before going all the way to a final with Bruges where Bob Paisley’s side prevailed over two legs.