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World Cup A-Z: R is for Reyna

LEADING MAN: Claudio Reyna in the thick of the action for the United States against Italy at the 2006 World Cup finals

LEADING MAN: Claudio Reyna in the thick of the action for the United States against Italy at the 2006 World Cup finals

We continue our A-Z of the World Cup by featuring a trailblazing former City midfielder…

R is for Reyna

Claudio Reyna is deservedly remembered as one of the finest-ever players to emerge from the United States.

And the former midfielder, who enjoyed a successful four-year stint at City between 2003 and 2007, also boasts a rich World Cup pedigree to boot too.

Having initially carved out a fine reputation during spells in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen and Vfl Wolfsburg, Reyna then moved on to play for both Rangers and Sunderland before arriving at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2003.

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During Claudio’s time with the Club, he went on to make 87 appearances, scoring four goals before moving to join New York Red Bulls in the Major Soccer League where he ended his illustrious playing career.

By then he had already made his mark at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan where he helped the United States qualify from the group stages. Having sat out the USA’s opening 3-2 win over Portugal, Reyna returned to captain the side in the 1-1 draw with co-hosts South Korea and 3-1 loss to Poland.

Despite that defeat, the United States qualified for the last-16 where they took on regional rivals Mexico and again sprang an upset, recording an impressive 2-0 win.

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That set up a quarter-final clash with Germany where the Americans’ World Cup heroics were finally checked as Michael Ballack’s goal proved decisive.

Such was Reyna’s superb impact at the tournament he was named in the official World Cup Team of the Tournament.

Four years later, Reyna again skippered the USA after they qualified for the 2006 finals which were staged in Germany.

However, unlike in South Asia, the Americans were unable to progress beyond the group stages despite Reyna and Co’s best efforts.

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The United States got off to a disappointing start, going down to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic before bouncing back in fine style by holding Italy – who went on to be crowned world champions – to a 1-1 draw.

That meant everything came down to their final group game against Ghana but, sadly, the game was to end in disappointment for Reyna.

Claudio sustained a first-half injury and had to be stretchered off the field, bringing his campaign to a premature end and it was the Black Stars who ultimately prevailed, winning an end-to-end, hard-fought encounter 2-1 thanks to Stephen Appiah’s penalty.

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