The man who led Liverpool back to the summit of European football after a 21-year absence, Rafa’s iconic status among supporters is forever assured.

The Spaniard had been in the Anfield hotseat for just a season when he masterminded the 2005 Miracle of Istanbul.

Captured from Valencia after impressively breaking the Real-Barca duopoly in La Liga, Benitez arrived with an impressive track record and his tactical acumen quickly came to the fore on Merseyside.

While that unforgettable Champions League triumph over AC Milan was the undoubted high point of his six years at the helm, the Kop experienced a long list of memorable nights under his charge.

FA Cup success in 2006 and another Champions League final appearance the following year offered further proof of the impressive job being undertaken but that progress was soon hindered by the well-publicised off-field problems of the time.

As a result, a much-coveted first Premier League title was to prove agonisingly just beyond Benitez’s reach. 

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