Former Arsenal and Real Madrid star Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a car crash at the age of 35.
The footballer was killed along with his 23-year-old cousin while another man suffered serious burns when the vehicle they were travelling in overturned and burst into flames in Utrera, the town where Reyes was born, just outside Seville.
He was reportedly on his way home to his wife and three children after training, having not been picked by current club Extremadura to play against Cádiz tomorrow, according to Spanish media.
Spanish police said they believe Reyes was driving his Mercedes Brabus S550V at 120 miles per hour – some 50mph over the speed limit on the A-376 motorway near Alcala de Guadaira, outside Seville.
The car was completely burned out after it crashed from the motorway and ended up on its roof.
Former Arsenal and Real Madrid star Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a car crash at the age of 35. Reyes, who was part of Arsenal’s 2004 Invincibles team (pictured left in 2004 and right for most recent club Extremadura in March), was involved in a traffic collision in Utrera, the town of his birth located just outside of Seville, in Spain this morning
Reyes’ Mercedes S Class, pictured, was completely destroyed after it rolled over and burst into flames after leaving the road
Above: images from the scene of the crash in Utrera show the burnt-out car flipped on its roof by the side of the road
The sports car was reduced to a crumpled heap after the horror smash near the Premier League-winning star’s hometown
The car was towed away on the back of a truck after it was pulled from the side of the motorway earlier on Saturday
Reyes and his 23-year-old cousin Jonathan Reyes were killed in the accident. A third man, Juan Manuel Calderon, managed to crawl free from the wreckage but suffered serious burns
Spanish police are investigating the cause of the accident, although the car was believed to be speeding when it left the road
His cousin Jonathan Reyes, 23, a back seat passenger, also died while a third man called Juan Manuel Calderon managed to get out of the vehicle but suffered first degree burns to 60 per cent of his body which he is receiving treatment for at Virgen del Rocio hospital in Seville.
He was also described locally as a cousin of the footballer, who also played for Seville, Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid.
Reyes’ Mercedes is said to have gone off the motorway before overturning and going up in flames.
TV footage showed the charred wreck of the car on its roof.
Utrera has declared two days of official mourning.
The town hall said in a statement: ‘This morning Utrera-born Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic accident on the A-376.
‘Another relative of Jose Antonio’s has also died.
‘Jose Antonio has been a much-loved person in our town since the start of his footballing career with Seville Football Club, always carrying the flag for Utrera.’
Utrera’s mayor Jose Maria Villalobos said he felt ‘overwhelmed by this sad news and the fact a young person with a family has had his life taken away from him’.
He leaves behind his daughters Noelia and Triana, son Jose Antonio Jr and wife Noelia Lopez, who he married in June 2017.
A minute’s silence was observed at Saturday night’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham as a mark of respect to Reyes, who was the first Spaniard to win the Premier League.
Confirming the news on Twitter, former club Sevilla said: ‘We couldn’t be confirming worse news. Beloved Sevilla star Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision. Rest in peace’. Above: Reyes and his wife among guests at their wedding
It is reported one of of the other people in the car, his 23-year-old cousin, also died while the third occupant suffered burns. Above: Reyes and Ms Lopez at their wedding
Former Arsenal star Jose Antonio Reyes is pictured at the wheel of a car in an image he posted to his Instagram account
Images reportedly from the scene of the crash show a car flipped on its roof lying in a ditch on the side of the road while another shows black smoke filling the air.
A statement from Sevilla’s English Twitter account read: ‘We couldn’t be confirming worse news. Beloved Sevilla star Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision. Rest in peace.’
He had been playing in the Spanish second-tier since January after signing a five-month deal with Extremadura.
Reyes, who won 21 caps for Spain, started his career with hometown club Sevilla and made his first team debut at the age of 16.
All seven second division games due to be played at the club have been postponed and will instead be played on Tuesday.
After leaving Seville for the first time, Reyes signed for Arsenal during the 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign for around £15million.
He went on to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield. He was the first Spaniard to win the English title.
Arsene Wenger, who was in charge of Arsenal from 1996 until 2018 and was boss during Reyes’s time at the club, paid tribute to the Spaniard today.
‘I am devastated to hear the terrible news about Jose,’ he said in a statement released by Arsenal.
‘To his family and friends, all support from everyone in the Arsenal family. He will remain forever in our hearts.’
Cesc Fabregas, who was Reyes’s teammate at Arsenal (pictured together at the club), said paid tribute to his ‘first great friend in the world of professional football’
Reyes’ former teammate Sergio Aguero (pictured holding the Uefa Cup together) said he was in ‘a lot of pain’ after the death of his ‘very good friend and partner’ with whom he ‘shared great moments’
Arsene Wenger, who was in charge of Arsenal from 1996 until 2018 and was boss during Reyes’s time at the club (pictured signing for the club), said the Spaniard ‘will remain forever in our hearts’
Cesc Fabregas, who was Reyes’s teammate at Arsenal, said in a translated statement: ‘My first great friend in the world of professional football, my roommate, who always wanted to sleep with the air conditioning even at -10 degrees.
‘A humble guy who always had a smile on his face, great footballer and great person. I could not wake up today in a worse way.
‘I will never forget when you and your family welcomed me at your home in my first Christmas in England when I was alone and was 16 years old.
‘I will never forget our tennis football matches in the gym before and after workouts. Our connection in the field was also special, since it was always easy to find yourself between the lines so you could make the difference.
‘I always say that you have been one of the greatest talents in football and I know that I am not wrong.
‘2 days ago I was talking about you in an interview, it might be a sign, who knows, to remember you, my great friend.
‘I will never forget you, we will never forget you. Always in our hearts. Rest in peace Jose Antonio Reyes. Love you very much. Cesc.’
Other former Arsenal colleagues in the form of Freddie Ljungberg, Ray Parlour, Robert Pires and Abou Diaby shared tributes on social media too, along with current Gunners boss Unai Emery.
Ljungberg said he was ‘numbed by the news’ about his former teammate, while Parlour described the former Spain international as a ‘great talent’.
Emery tweeted his condolences in Spanish that translated as: ‘Deeply sad and speechless after learning of this tragic news. I’ll never forget your magic and your smile Jose, never. It was an honour to be by your side…a strong hug and all the spirit of the world to family, friends and clubs he represented. RIP friend.’
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham, meanwhile, paid their respects, tweeting: ‘All of our thoughts are with Jose’s friends and family, and everyone at Arsenal at this very difficult time.’
Arsenal fans the world over mourned the news of Reyes’ passing, with @gunnerblog leading the fan reaction online.
‘This is such desperately sad news,’ he wrote.
Reyes left north London to return to Spain with Real Madrid on loan before joining their rivals Atletico Madrid on a permanent deal in 2007, where he went on to win the Europa League twice.
The father-of-three footballer is pictured kissing the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final with Sevilla in b2016
Reyes signed for Arsenal during the 2003-04 season and went on to win the Premier League
He leaves behind three children; daughters Noelia and Triana, son Jose Antonio Jr and wife Noelia Lopez, who he married in June 2017. Above: Reyes and Ms Lopez on their wedding day
A 20-year-old Reyes poses on an older Mercedes after signing for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 2004 from Sevilla
He returned to Sevilla in 2012 and then represented Espanyol, Cordoba and Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard in China before signing for Extremadura in January. Reyes’ final match was a 1-0 win at Alcorcon on May 18 and his team were due to play on Sunday against Cadiz but that been postponed until Tuesday.
Extremadura paid tribute to Reyes in a tweet, saying: ‘With a shrunken soul and a broken heart we announced the death of Jose Antonio Reyes in a traffic accident. We pray for his soul.’
Reyes holds the record for the player with the most Europa League titles. He won the competition twice with Atletico and three times with Sevilla.
Former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry led the tributes on social media, describing Reyes as an ‘exceptional human being’.
The Frenchman wrote: ‘I’m devastated to hear the sad news about Jose Antonio Reyes.
‘Wonderful player, superb team mate and exceptional human being. I wish his family and friends continued strength and courage to get through this difficult time. #takenfartoosoon’.
BT Sport presented Gary Lineker also tweeted, saying: ‘How terribly sad. RIP’.
Arsenal also paid homage to their former player, tweeting: ‘Everyone at Arsenal is devastated by the shocking news that our former player Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a traffic collision in Spain. Jose Antonio Reyes: 1983-2019 Rest in peace, Jose’.
North London rivals Tottenham, who are due to play in the Champions League final against Liverpool on Saturday night, also paid their respects.
They tweeted: ‘We are all deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jose Antonio Reyes. All of our thoughts are with Jose’s friends and family, and everyone at Arsenal at this very difficult time.’
European governing body UEFA also tweeted a tribute to Reyes. It read: ‘Everyone at UEFA is shocked & hugely saddened to learn that José Antonio Reyes has died aged 35. A Spanish international with 5 Europa League titles, Reyes will be sorely missed by the football world. Our thoughts are with his family & friends at this terrible time.’
His most recent club, Extremadura, paid tribute to Reyes as they confirmed his death
Reyes played for both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid during his illustrious playing career
Barcelona wrote: ‘We want to express their deepest condolences for the death of footballer Jose Antonio Reyes, a brilliant and charismatic player; one of the most outstanding figures and with a longer trajectory of our football. Rest in peace.’
Spanish midfielder Borja Valero simply tweeted ‘RIP’ with heart emoji alongside a black and white picture of Reyes.
Former Atletico colleague and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero wrote: ‘Moved by the death of José Antonio Reyes, a very good friend and partner with whom I shared great moments. A lot of pain. My condolences and all my support to your relatives’.