Liverpool confirmed Pepe Reina's temporary move to Napoli through their official website earlier today, Monday. The Spanish shot-stopper, who has to date kept 134 clean sheets in 285 Premier League matches, will be reunited with his former Reds manager Rafael Benitez in Serie A.
A product of Barcelona's famed youth academy, Reina, now 30, has issued an open letter to the fans who cheered him since his switch from Villarreal in 2005.
In the letter, Reina points to the trophies he won with the Merseyside outfit - an FA Cup, a League Cup - as perhaps unsatisfactory given the magnitude of the club's history, but praises Liverpool as club, city, a people and culture, implying that it is these factors that led to his intoxication with The Kop.
'I may not have won as many trophies and medals as I would have liked… but the experiences I have been a part of are as important as any silverware. I appreciate that there is something unique about Anfield and the atmosphere it creates. And I have been humbled by the fight for justice for the 96 which showed me that the Liverpool people will always fight for what they believe in.
'I have been asked what my favourite Liverpool moment was and if I had to pick one it wouldn’t be a save or winning a trophy. It would be my celebration against Manchester United when David Ngog scored a late goal. That is probably the quickest I have ever run in my life! It shows what playing for Liverpool meant to me and also that there was nothing better than winning a big game at Anfield.'
One of current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' summer acquisitions was Simon Mignolet, 25, a towering Belgian goalkeeper transferred from Sunderland. Just two days ago, Rodgers explained that Mignolet was purchased because there was an increasing likelihood the club would receive an offer from Barca for Reina, a transfer that Pepe would be receptive to.
'As events transpired, Pepe's move didn't quite happen and that left us with two very good goalkeepers. An opportunity then arose for Pepe that we felt as a football club was probably best for him,' said Rodgers.
Reina voiced his disappointment over the nature of his Napoli move on his official website: 'I am disappointed that I will not be part of [the club this season] and although it was not my decision to leave I will accept it just like I have always accepted any decision that Liverpool have taken for me… I have one regret - the way that I am leaving.'
While Reina's words have affected a large number of Liverpool fans throughout the social media sphere, he does point to the future, noting his enthusiasm about working with Benitez again - a manager he credits as the best he's seen - and about how Napoli remind him of the Liverpool he joined in 2005.
'I will see you soon,' he concluded.
image: © Eric The Fish (2013)