Rafael Benitez

  Art_rafa_benitezDate of Birth: 16 Apr 1960

  Birthplace: Madrid 

  Games: 350

  Won: 194

  Drawn: 77

  Lost: 79





Champions League 2005 

Super Cup 2005 

FA Cup 2006 

Charity Shield 2006


He was hailed as our Spanish messiah, a genial tactician who restored our reputation as one of Europe's biggest clubs and led us to one of the greatest triumphs in our history.

But after a six year reign of cup glory and league frustration Rafael Benitez Maudes' hopes of leading Liverpool to a record-breaking 19th League Championship were brought to an end following a disappointing 2009-10 campaign.

The Spaniard's first year in England had climaxed like a fairytale, one that was capped by a European achievement that will ensure his tenure will be immortalised and cherished in the annals of Anfield history.

For while even the late, great Bill Shankly took time to establish Liverpool as a force, Benitez made an almost immediate impact, shrugging off the disappointment of a fifth place finish in the Premiership to defy the odds and lead the Reds to a fifth European Cup success.

To say his legend can be summed up in six minutes would be to belittle his other achievements, but those few precious moments that followed half-time on Wednesday, May 25, 2005, were undoubtedly the most important.

A wave of optimism carried Liverpool into Rafa's second season and although the Reds secured a Super Cup win over CSKA Moscow, a fixture pile-up as a result of a series of Champions League qualifiers and inconsistent Premiership performances saw them struggle early on.

A run of one defeat in 18 matches, in which they set a new club record of 11 consecutive clean sheets, got the Reds back on track, culminating in a third place finish which at the time saw us notch up our highest points tally since the inauguration of the Premier League.

There was also another final to look forward to and, with more than a little sense of déjà vu, the Reds overcame West Ham on penalties to claim the FA Cup and a third trophy under Rafa in just two seasons.

The Spaniard had certainly shown he had the Midas touch, following on from his success at Valencia where he had a developed a reputation as one of Europe's finest coaches.

However, the media still doubted his understanding of the English game overall, as the frustration of yet another disappointing start in the Premiership in 06-07 was in stark contrast to the confident swagger the side had begun to display in the Champions League.

European Champions Barcelona stood in the way in the knockout stage, but Rafa and co produced one of the performances of the season to clinch a famous 2-1 win in the Nou Camp and lay the foundations for progress to the next round.

After overcoming PSV and Chelsea respectively, the final in Athens would be another repeat, but this time AC Milan gained revenge for 2005.

The arrival of Fernando Torres for a record fee was a firm statement of intent ahead of 07-08, and with his strongest group of players since taking charge, Benitez made his best ever start in the Barclays Premier League.

The Reds marched to a run of 14 league matches unbeaten but saw their title hopes derailed by a series of disappointing draws.

A shock FA Cup defeat at home to Barnsley heaped further pressure on the Reds before an impressive Champions League victory over Inter Milan proved the catalyst for an end of season surge.

A 4-2 triumph in an all-English quarter-final second-leg at home to Arsenal had supporters dreaming of a third European final in four seasons, but this time it would be Chelsea's turn to advance to Moscow.

A second year without a trophy raised the pressure again, but if it hadn't been for injuries to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, a partnership that had terrorised defences home and abroad, the Reds could easily have finished the season as the 2009 champions after losing just two league matches.

Highlights would include league doubles over both Manchester United and Chelsea, with the 4-1 mauling of Alex Ferguson's men at Old Trafford a particularly sweet moment for fans, players and coaching staff alike.

The Red Devils would go on to close out the championship but Liverpool kept winning right until the end with 10 victories from our last 11 league matches. It ensured we finished the campaign by setting a new personal Barclays Premier League best, with 86 points.

Expectation was higher than ever heading into 2009-10, but all was not well in the Liverpool camp.

Xabi Alonso's on-off transfer to Real Madrid was the major theme of a disappointing pre-season schedule. The opening day defeat at Tottenham proved to be a sign of things to come and once again the injuries to Torres and Gerrard would have a huge bearing on results.

By November any thoughts of a title challenge were over and a group stage exit from the Champions League threatened to completely derail the season.

Rumours of disharmony within the squad did little to raise the team's morale and a shock FA Cup replay defeat at home to Championship strugglers, Reading saw many within the media speculating that Rafa's future was in question.

Any hope of finishing the season with a trophy were ended by Diego Forlan's crucial away goal in the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid, while a 2-0 reversal against Chelsea in the final home match of the campaign quashed our chances of a top four finish.

The goalless draw at relegated Hull City would not only prove to be the final game of a disappointing campaign, but would also be Rafa's swansong as the club opted to part ways with the Spaniard less than four weeks later after a season that saw his side lose 19 games.