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Pepe Reina says that growing up in Madrid as a Barcelona fan ‘was never easy’.

That experience may help explain the stubborn streak that kept him at Liverpool during the club’s darkest hours when compatriots Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso chose to flee.

Reina will walk out at Wembley for Sunday’s Carling Cup final as the most popular foreign player at Anfield since Jan Molby adopted a Scouse accent.

Against Championship underdogs Cardiff City, he cannot wait to give The Kop their first trophy since his penalty shoot-out heroics proved decisive in the FA Cup final against West Ham in 2006.

‘There will be more than 30,000 of our supporters at Wembley, wearing the red shirts and waving the red scarves. We’ve missed that,’ said Reina.

‘Cup finals are for the supporters. They travel with friends and family and dream of winning a trophy.

‘I’ve been there. I supported Barcelona living in Madrid, which was never very easy. All the time I hoped they would get to finals so I could go and see them. For Liverpool fans, it is no different.’

Reina was in despair at the civil war which ripped Anfield apart until despised owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, were replaced by a more benign American, John W Henry.

‘It’s time for a club as big as Liverpool to fight again for titles,’ said Reina.

Liverpool will be overwhelming favourites against Championship opposition but Cardiff, he insists, will not be underestimated: ‘We know all about them, especially someone like Kenny Miller, who has played at the highest
level.’

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