"As a player, he was an icon, for Spanish football as a whole."
Dani Ceballos cannot hide his admiration when talking about his childhood hero, Jose Antonio Reyes.
The duo have shared the same journey from Utrera to north London and our on-loan playmaker is desperate to have the same impact on the game as our Premier League-winning forward.
“Jose started playing professionally at a very young age – if I remember rightly he was only 16," he told Arsenal Player. "From there, his career came on in leaps and bounds to the point where he was able to sign for Arsenal.
"He went on to play in European Championships, World Cups… as a player he was an icon, not just for me but for Spanish football as a whole, because he played for the biggest clubs in Spain and won titles everywhere he went.
"I remember one match when he was playing for Sevilla against Real Madrid. He was up against Roberto Carlos and he looked like he’d be playing at the top level for 10 years, but he’d only just made the step up from the youth academy. He was definitely one of my idols.
“I joined Arsenal not long after Jose died. He was on my mind a lot around that time because I’m sure he would have got in touch to give me recommendations on good stuff to do here in London.
"I’m sure he’s up there, proud that I’m following in his footsteps. And I’m proud to be following in his footsteps too.”
Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.