Glasgow's great paradox is that while the Old Firm breeds contempt and violence on game days, the city hasn't been targeted by the sectarian terrorism that has plagued other parts of the United Kingdom. The continued tensions are all the more baffling when you consider that 10 years after signing Johnston, Rangers has more Catholics in its starting lineup than Celtic. For its part, Celtic management launched a program called Bhoys Against Bigotry three years ago to "promote religious and ethnic harmony" at more than a hundred Glasgow schools. And those Rangers portraits at the Louden Tavern? They're painted by a Celtic season-ticket holder.
Yet somehow the animosity persists. As a result, Reyna has had to adapt to more than just the breakneck pace of the Scottish game and the demands of playing out of his normal attacking position as a holding midfielder. Soon after he arrived in Glasgow, Reyna met with teammate Derek McInnes for lunch at a downtown cafe, where McInnes explained the history of the Old Firm as well as which parts of town are safe for Rangers players and which are best avoided. One of the instructions that Rangers give their Catholic players, Reyna included, is not to cross themselves on the field.
None of this, however, could have prepared Reyna for the surreal events that unfolded during his first Old Firm match. In hindsight, the circumstances of the game almost guaranteed mayhem. For the first time in 334 Old Firm meetings, Rangers could clinch the Scottish title on Celtic's home turf with a win. Moreover, thanks to the 6 p.m. start for worldwide television, fans in the East End had been drinking all day.
It made for a first half that Reyna would call the strangest of his career. Soon after Rangers took a 1-0 lead, referee Hugh Dallas ejected Celtic defender Stephane Mahe for dissent. Enraged Celtic fans began tossing coins at Dallas until one finally connected. On the restart, Dallas whistled a dubious penalty kick: 2-0, Rangers. Four Celtic supporters stormed the field before half-time, but the behavior of Rangers partisans was scarcely any better. "Fenian scum!" they chanted, even as a Catholic, Neil McCann, was scoring two of the team's goals. Rangers may have won 3-0, but the soccer was not nearly as memorable as the ugliness in the stands.
Still, the victory concluded a whirlwind three weeks for Reyna in which he and his wife, Danielle, had their first child; he moved from Wolfsburg, a lightly regarded German club, to one of the most famous teams in Europe; and he won the first championship of his pro career. He was 3,000 miles from his hometown of Springfield, N.J., but if he looked closely, there were still a few reminders of America. Among Rangers faithful stood U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who had driven three hours from Liverpool, where he plays, to lend moral support. As Reyna celebrated with his teammates on the turf afterward, you could make out, amid the supporters' sea of Union Jacks, a lone American flag.
Celtic reaction was—how to say?—less positive. Outside the stadium, a band of zealots would attack the Louden Tavern and clash with Paul Levery and his buddies. There would be street fighting in Gallowgate, a stabbing on London Road, 113 arrests and more than 100 injuries.
But the epicenter of the hatred was inside Celtic Park. There a six-year-old boy stood alone atop his chair after the match ended and held his green scarf aloft, defiantly challenging the enemy. Lime-clad supporters raced as close as they could to the police DMZ, then hurled coins and obscenities at the small pocket of joyous Rangers fans. In the south stand a woman draped in green stared at the untoward scene and captured the moment better than she probably realized.
"For god's sake," she said. "For god's sake."