Pepe Reina feels “invigorated” by Napoli and is “happy to be back at this level” after difficult years with Liverpool.
The goalkeeper made the loan move to the San Paolo and has impressed so far, even becoming the first man in a major competition to save Mario Balotelli’s penalty.
“I want to enjoy this year,” Reina told the Daily Mail. “It is such an important one for me with the World Cup around the corner and returning to the top flight, playing in the Champions League and fighting for the title, is something I have missed in the last two or three years. I’m happy to be back at this level. I never expected it, but it’s been a great decision. I feel invigorated by the move.
“Mentally, I'm fresher, I have more hunger. It is not like before I wasn't, but a change can be good for your mind. You have to show the people even more and you have to be ready. The tactics and the managerial skills of Rafa Benitez are getting the best from me and that's one more reason.”
Reina has also been struck by the passion of the legendary Napoli fans.
“It's been a magnificent welcome. It's been brilliant. My family have adapted well to Napoli. The kids in the school are happy and my wife is making some friends. It is very similar to Liverpool.
“It is a humble city and very, very passionate about the team. It is almost a religion, like in Liverpool. That's always brilliant for the players. It is a positive pressure. It is a healthy club, that's for sure.
“Along with Borussia Dortmund it is probably the healthiest club in Europe. The squad is being built little by little with room to improve but it is going the right way and everything is good.”
It’s a positive loan switch, though one Reina freely admits he wasn’t expecting this summer, as the deal was essentially agreed while he was on vacation.
“It did come as a surprise. It was the club Liverpool who made the move. I was on my holidays and nobody told me anything. Suddenly Napoli called and said they were agreeing terms with Liverpool and Liverpool just rang me two days later and said the same. They probably had their own reasons.
“At the moment it's difficult to think about being a Liverpool player next year. They have a young goalkeeper in Simon Mignolet and the manager prefers him to me.
“That's the reason why I'm here and he will be at the club next year as well. There's no reason to think I'll be a Liverpool player from now on but we'll see where the future takes us. It's been a good move so far and I don't regret what happened. I would have preferred to say goodbye in a different way.”
Last Sunday Reina became the first man to parry a Mario Balotelli penalty in a major competition, securing Napoli’s 2-1 victory over Milan at San Siro.
“Just lucky it wasn't right in the corner,” smiled Reina.