Gas prices in Europe are currently more inflated than a Manchester City contract (it currently costs upwards of $8 a gallon to fill up) and the expense has encouraged more stupidity in the general population. However, the preciousness of petroleum distillates hasn't stopped Pepe Reina performing one of an exhausting list of pre-match superstitions.
According to his new autobiography — which appears to be more a list of crazy things than an actual piece of prose — the Liverpool goalkeeper must have a tank full of gas before he arrives at home games:
"Six hours before kick-off at Anfield and before I can even think about the game, I have to get to a petrol station. After getting into the car, I turn the engine on and look at the fuel gauge. It is almost full. I still need petrol, though, so I head to the same garage that I always go to when Liverpool are at home, a small filling station on Queens Drive that is almost exactly halfway between my home in South Liverpool and the stadium. I get there, open the petrol cap and begin to refuel. I am only at the pump for 20 seconds or so and the tank is full so I go in to pay. The cashier gives me a bit of a funny look. To be fair, I cannot blame him. I have just pulled on to his forecourt, queued up for five minutes behind other motorists and all for £8 worth of petrol, just so my tank is full to the brim.
"He does not know it but I do the same thing before every home game. It is one of countless rituals I have to perform to make sure I am in the right frame of mind to play for Liverpool."
This kind of superstition almost makes Wayne Rooney's magic hair dresser ritual look sane. But that far from concludes his superstitious behavior — here's some more fileted highlights:
On his inappropriate dietary routine...
"Before I go to bed I have a couple of cheese and ham toasties. Then I have a glass of wine. Fitness experts and nutritionists would not advise that kind of diet for a sportsman but I never feel able to eat a proper meal the night before we play, and the wine helps me to sleep."
On the space he parks his gas-laden car in...
"When I get to Anfield I always park in the same space — bay number 39 in the car park in front of the Centenary Stand. I have tried number 41 and 42 and a few others but when I went to 39 we kept clean sheets two weeks in a row and so I have stayed there ever since."
On his arrival in the dressing room...
"I always get undressed in the same order — jacket, tie, shirt, shoes, trousers and socks — and then I get onto the massage bed so that Rob, our physio, can work his magic on me. I lie there reading the match programme while he is bending and stretching my legs. Then I strap myself up and put my kit on. I always sit in the same place, just next to the wall as soon as you walk in, right next to Carra."
On his toiletry habits....
"I go to the toilet to have a pee about three or four times in the hour before kick-off because of my nerves. Then I go out a little bit before the rest of the lads to do my warm-up."
On his unnecessarily well-planned-out arrival on the pitch...
"I then have to make sure that I am the last one out onto the pitch before kick-off, and I always touch the This Is Anfield sign with both hands as I walk down the tunnel. When I cross the white line I have to do it twice with my right foot. Stepping on, then off and then back on again. For some reason — and probably not a very good one — it helps keep me calm. Then I head towards my goal but before I get there I have to touch fists with my back four — except Carra, who doesn't like doing that so we share a high five instead — and then clap the supporters on the Kop to show my appreciation for their support of me. As I get to my goal I go straight to the right post, bang my studs against it, then touch the crossbar, then bang my studs against the left post, then go back to the middle.
"Next, I take six steps to the edge of the six yard box, another six steps to the penalty spot, another six to the edge of the 18-yard box and then do the same thing in reverse. Then I stretch up, do some high knees, jump, sprint to the right, jump, sprint to the left, wave hello to my wife in the stand — and then I'm ready."
"Anyone watching me must think I'm crazy but it works for me. It keeps me calm, so I always do the same thing."
It's interesting to note that Jamie 'I used my autobiography to tell everyone how much I hate playing for England' Carragher refuses to fist bump Reina. They seem to have an uneasy relationship, which is further explored in the Spaniard's compendium when he recalls a heated argument between them.
- Pepe Reina