When it comes to playing for Spain at the European Championship, goalkeeper Pepe Reina is happy even if he’s not starting.
Reina, however, will get his chance in goal against Greece on Wednesday with Spain looking to close out Group D with a perfect record following wins against Russia and Sweden. He doesn’t mind that he’s playing only after Spain have already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals.
“I always go out there ready to play. You always go out with the intention of playing and when you do get a chance, just don’t screw it up,” Reina said. “The mentality (in your preparation) is the same — you need to compete whether you are playing or not.”
Reina plays behind Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Spain’s regular for nearly seven years now. The 27-year-old Casillas has played 79 times and is only three appearances shy of passing Jose Antonio Camacho for fourth on the all-time list.
“Iker is playing at a high level and there is no reason to replace him,” the 25-year-old Reina said. “I know that I could be called in at a difficult moment and I would be delighted to help. I hope not, but if something like an expulsion or an injury happens to Iker, you have to be ready.”
Reina isn’t expecting his 10th cap to come easily since the Greeks will be looking to exit with a win or risk being the only defending champion to bow out of the competition without a goal scored and the only team not to earn a single point.
“We just need to have a good game and show that we can be counted on for any moment. We’ll be ready,” Reina said. “I’ll go out there motivated to take advantage of the minutes and to win.” Reina doesn’t alter his approach, whether he’s preparing for an international game like this or the Champions League final, which he helped lead Liverpool to last year. They returned to the semifinals this season, too.