Rafa Benitez

By Tom Easterby - Newcastle United Club Reporter

 

Rafael Benitez was born in the Spanish capital of Madrid on 16th April, 1960.

As a player, Benitez was on the books of Real Madrid - a club he would later go on to manage, progressing through the ranks of the club's youth and amateur teams until a knee injury sustained at the Universiada in Mexico brought about his move to AD Parla in 1981.

There, he won promotion to the Second Division B before retiring after a brief stint at CF Linares.

But it is Benitez's managerial career which sets him apart as one of the world's most renowned bosses.

He took his first steps on the coaching ladder at Real Madrid, where again progressed through the ranks on the touchline before taking charge of their B team between 1993 and 1993. The Spaniard was also assistant first team coach at Real for a spell between 1993 and 1994.

Benitez then had spells in the dugout as coach of, first, Real Valladolid and then Osasuna before guiding Extremadura back to the Primera Division in 1997. Benitez then moved on to Tenerife and repeated the trick, again winning promotion in 2001.

It was during his time with Valencia that Benitez began to make a real name for himself.

In three years at the Mestalla, he won the La Liga title in 2001/2 and again in 2003/4.

In his last season there, he also won the UEFA Cup, making it a double winning campaign for Los Che.

Benitez's next stop would be Anfield, where he memorably guided Liverpool to the Champions League title in his first season on Merseyside after an incredible comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 final.

He collected the FA Cup in 2006 and again reached the Champions League final in 2007. Benitez also achieved a second-place finish in the Barclays Premier League in the 2008-09 season.

His next move took him to the San Siro, where he guided Inter Milan to Italian Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup glory before returning to England, taking over as interim manager of Chelsea in November 2012.

A trophy followed, as he managed the Blues to the UEFA Europa League title six months later.

Benitez's time at Napoli between May 2013 and May 2013 heralded two more trophies - the Italian Super Cup and the Coppa Italia - before returning to Real Madrid, this time as manager, last June.

The Newcastle United job is his first since leaving the Bernabeu in January.

To date, the vastly experienced Benitez has a 56% win record in the Barclays Premier League, having taken charge of over 250 games in English football's top tier.