PEPE REINA last night attributed his record equalling run as Liverpool keeper to a painful baptism in English football.
The Anfield stopper is 90 minutes away from an historic 11th consecutive clean-sheet as Liverpool begin their quest for global glory against Deportivo Saprissa.
Should the Spaniard allow himself to look further ahead, he's three games and 26 minutes from breaking a British goalkeeping record. Somewhat poignantly, that's held by former Rangers number one, Chris Woods. Woods is now goalkeeping coach at Everton. If Liverpool keep out the opposition until December 28, their derby rivals will stand in their way on the day Reina bids to rewrite the national statistics.
The world record for consecutive clean sheets is held by another Spaniard. Atletico Madrid's Abel Resino went 14 games and 15 minutes without conceding a goal.
But as the record bid continued to add a potentially triumphant sub-plot to Liverpool's semi-final preparations in Japan, Reina revealed the debt of two goals he conceded at Birmingham earlier in the season.
"That Birmingham game was a real learning experience for me. That was probably the worst game for me," said Reina..
The important thing is I tried to improve afterwards. I am very critical of myself. There wasn't much time to think of those mistakes. We play every three days and you have to move on and just try and do better. I hope we get that record. For me it is very important because it would be an ambition for me to go into the history books for Liverpool. But the most important thing is the team, and if we won every game for the rest of the season 3-2 then I would be happy. Never mind the record, it is the chance of another win and to keep our run going that is the most important thing. If we do keep another clean sheet then obviously that does give us a great chance of another win. The most important thing and the main reason we are here is to get another win and to win another trophy."
Reina has already been dubbed the 'sweeper keeper' by his manager for his ability to read and avert danger before it leads to chaos. He admits he's satisified with the speed of his adjustment to the Premiership.
"I don't remember what the longest I have gone without conceding a goal before is. Maybe six or seven games, but nowhere near this," he said..
"People have said I have adapted well, but when you are a goalkeeper football is the same all over the world - you are just trying to stop the ball (from going in). It is true the game in England can be more physical, you do get a lot more crosses in the Premiership, that is for sure, and the referees are not the same as I was used to in Spain. In Spain, the goalkeeper is the boss of the six-yard box. In England, it is different."
Copyright - Chris Bascombe at Liverpool Echo