|Birth Day:||April 16, 1960|
|Birth Place:||Madrid, Spain|
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He began his professional career with Real Madrid Castilla in 1974.
In 1979, Benítez was selected to play for the Spain Youth U-19s at the World Student Games in Mexico City and he scored a penalty in the opening game, a 10–0 win against Cuba. In the next game, a 0–0 draw against Canada, he was injured in a hard tackle. The injury saw him sidelined for a year and hampered his chances of becoming a major player. In 1981, Benítez joined Tercera División side Parla. Initially, he joined Parla on loan, but eventually signed for them permanently and helped them gain promotion to Segunda División B. He also played a further three games for the Spain Universities XI. In 1985, he signed for Segunda División B club Linares and under Enrique Mateos, he served as a player/coach. Further injury problems saw him miss almost the entire 1985–86 season and he subsequently retired as a player.
Benítez passed through the playing ranks as a midfielder for both Real Madrid Aficionados in the Tercera División and Castilla CF in the Segunda División. He also enrolled as a student at INEF, the sports faculty at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and in 1982 he obtained a degree in physical education.
In 1986, at the age of 26, Benítez returned to Real Madrid to join the club's coaching staff. At the start of the 1986–87 season, he was appointed coach of Castilla B. With this team, he won two league titles in 1987 and 1989. He won a third league title with Real Madrid Youth B in 1990. Halfway through the 1990–91 season he succeeded José Antonio Camacho as the coach of Real Madrid' under-19 club. With the team, he won the Spain Under 19s Cup in 1991 and 1993, defeating Barcelona in both finals. In 1993, the team completed a double when they also won the national under-19 league. While at Real, Benítez also gained his coaching certificate in 1989 and in the summer of 1990 taught at a football camp at the University of California, Davis, in California.
During the 1992–93 season, Benítez also worked as an assistant coach to Mariano García Remón at Real Madrid B. After his success with the U19s, Benítez then succeeded García Remón at the start of the 1993–94 season. Real Madrid B were then playing in the Segunda División and on 4 September 1993, he made his debut as a Segunda División manager with a 3–1 over Hércules. In March 1994, he became assistant manager to Vicente del Bosque with the senior Real Madrid team before returning to coach Real Madrid B for the 1994–95 season.
The first attempts by Benítez at senior management away from the Real Madrid fold were less than successful. He was appointed manager of Real Valladolid for the 1995–96 season, but was dismissed after only two wins in 23 games with the club bottom of the Primera División. During the 1996–97 season, Benítez took charge at Osasuna in the Segunda División, but after only nine games and one win, he was dismissed. He did, however, meet the fitness instructor Pako Ayestarán at the club, and went on to form a partnership with him at several clubs for the next decade. In 1997, he joined another Segunda División side, Extremadura, and this time led them to promotion, finishing second in the table behind Deportivo Alavés after winning 23 out of 42 games. Extremadura only survived one season in Primera División, however, and were relegated in 1999 after finishing 17th and losing a play-off to Rayo Vallecano.
Rafael Benítez married Maria Montserrat in 1998. They have two daughters, Claudia, who was born in Madrid in 1999, and Ágata who was born in Valencia in 2002. Benítez is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Italian.
Benítez subsequently quit Extremadura and took a year off from football to study in England and Italy. He also worked as a commentator/analyst for Eurosport, Marca, El Mundo and local Madrid TV. In 2000, he was appointed manager of Tenerife of the Segunda División and with a team that included Mista, Curro Torres and Luis García, he gained promotion to La Liga by finishing third in the league behind Sevilla and Real Betis.
In 2001, Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia, replacing Héctor Cúper. The club had previously approached Javier Irureta, Mané and Luis Aragonés and had been turned down by all three. However, Club Director Javier Subirats recognised the potential of Benítez and campaigned for his appointment.
Valencia fans were soon won over by Benítez after he introduced a more attacking style of play than his predecessor, Cúper. He also brought in both Mista from his former club and Francisco Rufete from Málaga, with Mista going on to become top goalscorer for Valencia with 19 goals in the 2003–04 season. In 2002, these tactics saw Benítez lead Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years, winning it by a seven-point margin over second-placed Deportivo La Coruña.
In 2003–04 season, Valencia won La Liga with three games to spare and beat Marseille 2–0 in the UEFA Cup final. Despite this success, Benítez fell out with Jesús García Pitarch, the club's director of football, over control of new signings and the club's failure to reinforce the squad with the players he wanted. He said, "I was hoping for a sofa [a defender] and they've brought me a lamp [Fabián Canobbio]," in reference to the positions he wanted to be strengthened. These differences of opinion saw Benítez resign as Valencia coach on 1 June 2004.
On 16 June 2004, Benítez was appointed manager of Liverpool, becoming the first Spaniard to manage in the Premier League.
Benítez's father, Francisco, worked as a hotelier. His mother is Rosario Maudes. Rosario was a big football fan and supported Real Madrid, while his father supported Atlético Madrid. Francisco died in December 2005 while Benítez was in Japan for the FIFA Club World Championship.
Benítez has had confrontations with both José Mourinho (Chelsea manager from 2004–2007) and Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson during his time in English football. Benítez made a number of suggestions during Mourinho's tenure as manager that Roman Abramovich's money had bought Chelsea's success, and the pair refused to shake hands after some matches (although Mourinho declared the feud to be over after a league game in 2006). When Mourinho exited Chelsea in 2007, Benítez said, "You know my relationship with him, it is better that I do not say anything," declining to comment as Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger had.
Nevertheless, on 18 March 2009, shortly after registering a 4–0 victory over Real Madrid and 4–1 victory over Manchester United, Benítez signed a new five-year deal with the club. Benítez said, "My heart is with Liverpool, so I'm delighted to sign this new deal, I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying." With ten wins in their last 11 games, Liverpool finished the season on a high, finishing second in the league for the first time under Benítez, four points off champions Manchester United, with Liverpool playing an attractive brand of attacking football at odds with the side that struggled through the winter months.
On 9 January 2009, Benítez delivered a controversial appraisal of certain aspects of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure, accusing Ferguson and Manchester United of being nervous because Liverpool were at the top of the league, then accused the Manchester United manager of not being punished for breaking FA rules, suggesting he was "the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things", referring to Ferguson not being punished following an FA charge for comments he made about officials Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett following an FA Cup tie with Portsmouth. In his 2013 autobiography, Ferguson said that "Benitez bought badly and made the feud personal".
Benítez has also had confrontations with Sam Allardyce when he was manager of Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers. When Allardyce was manager of Newcastle, he suggested Benítez would have been dismissed had Liverpool's European form been as bad as their league form. In a match in April 2009 when Allardyce was manager of Blackburn, he accused Benítez of arrogance over a gesture he made when Fernando Torres scored Liverpool's second goal. Allardyce suggested that Benítez had signalled the game was over despite Liverpool only having a two-goal lead. This view was later supported by Sir Alex Ferguson. Benítez, however, later explained this gesture: he said he had previously told Xabi Alonso to take a short free-kick. This instruction was ignored, which resulted in a goal. Benítez said that he had jokingly signalled to Alonso to ignore his instructions and not that he thought the game was effectively over.
Benítez left the club "by mutual consent" on 3 June 2010 with a reported £6 million pay-off; the media speculated that this was because the team had finished seventh in the Premier League, missing out on the Champions League, and suffered poor results, including the defeat by Wigan Athletic. Shortly after his departure from Anfield, Benítez made a £96,000 donation to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
On 10 June 2010, and only a few days after leaving Liverpool, Benítez agreed a deal to become the new head coach of Serie A and reigning Champions League title-holders Inter Milan, a post that was left vacant by the departure of José Mourinho, who left to manage Real Madrid. On 15 June 2010, Benítez was presented to the Italian media for the first time after signing a two-year deal. On 21 August 2010, Benítez won his first trophy as manager, the Italian Super Cup, after they defeated Roma 3–1. On 27 August 2010 in Monaco, Inter lost to Atlético Madrid in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup. Benítez's first Serie A game in charge was on 31 August 2010 in a 0–0 draw away to Bologna in the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. His first league win as manager came on 11 September 2010, a 2–1 win against Udinese at the San Siro.
By December 2010, Inter had slumped to sixth in Serie A, 13 points adrift of the top (although Inter played two games less), having suffered consecutive defeats against arch rivals Milan (which ended a 46 match unbeaten home record), Chievo and Lazio, as well as losing at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, leading to speculation that Benítez's position was under threat. Despite criticism, Benítez guided Inter to win the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2010. Buoyed by the Club World Cup victory, he told the European champions to back him with new signings or consider whether they wanted to keep him as coach, despite the side having won the treble only a few months earlier. Benítez's demands were dismissed out of hand by the Inter ownership, with Massimo Moratti refusing to comment on Benítez's continued employment by the club. On 23 December 2010, just five days after bringing Inter to the triumph, Benítez was dismissed by Inter.
On 21 November 2012, following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea appointed Benítez as interim first-team manager until the end of the 2012–13 season. He was unveiled as the new Chelsea manager at a press conference on 22 November 2012. He appointed Boudewijn Zenden as his new assistant manager at Chelsea on the same day.
The appointment was unpopular with many Chelsea fans due to Benítez' association with Liverpool and comments he had previously made about the club, and he received a "fiercely hostile reception" as he was introduced at his first home game, a 0–0 draw with Manchester City on 25 November 2012. This was followed by a 0–0 draw at home to Fulham and a 3–1 loss to West Ham. On 5 December 2012, Benítez recorded his first win as Chelsea manager, a 6–1 victory at home to Nordsjælland in the Champions League. Despite this win, Chelsea failed to progress beyond the group stage of the competition. This was followed by a 3–1 away victory to Sunderland, with Benítez presiding over his first league win as Chelsea manager.
At the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2012, Chelsea defeated Monterrey 3–1 to reach the final, where they were beaten 1–0 by Brazilian side Corinthians. Chelsea progressed to the League Cup semi-finals with a 5–1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road and then recorded an 8–0 win over Aston Villa, equalling their record top-flight victory. They subsequently lost 1–0 at home to 20th-placed Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League and were knocked out of the League Cup semi-finals by underdogs Swansea City 2–0 on aggregate.
On 27 February 2013, following a 2–0 win at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth-round, Benítez heavily criticised the Chelsea board for giving him the title of "interim manager" and the Chelsea fans for their protests against him. He also confirmed that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. He described his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as "excellent" and expressed his desire to remain as Chelsea manager until the end of the season. Results continued to be mixed, and at one point Chelsea found themselves 16 points behind league leaders Manchester United, having been just four behind when Benítez was appointed. Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing 2–1 to Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, and also progressed to the final of the UEFA Europa League. In the penultimate league game of the season, Chelsea won 2–1 away to Aston Villa, a game in which Frank Lampard set the all-time scoring record at Chelsea. The win secured a top-four Premiership finish and with it a place in the following season's Champions League.
On 27 May 2013, it was announced that Benítez had signed for Napoli, whose manager Walter Mazzarri had resigned. Benítez agreed a two-year contract after meeting club president Aurelio De Laurentiis in London.
On 3 June 2015, Benítez was confirmed as the new Real Madrid manager, signing a three-year contract. Real Madrid remained unbeaten in the league until a 3–2 loss at Sevilla in the 11th matchday. This was followed by a 4–0 home loss in the first Clásico of the season against Barcelona. Real later played Cádiz in the Copa del Rey Round of 32, winning away 3–1 in the first leg. However, they fielded an ineligible player in Denis Cheryshev as he was suspended for that match, resulting in the second leg being cancelled and Madrid being disqualified. Meanwhile, Real topped their UEFA Champions League group with 16 points.
On 4 January 2016, Benítez's contract was terminated following allegations of unpopularity with supporters, displeasure with players and a failure to get good results against top sides. At the time of his dismissal, Real were third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atlético Madrid and two points behind arch-rivals Barcelona, the latter of whom had a game in hand.
On 11 March 2016, Benítez was appointed as the manager of relegation threatened Newcastle United, signing on an initial three-year deal. He suffered defeat in his first match in charge, losing 1–0 away to eventual champions Leicester City on 14 March. Benítez would have to wait until 16 April for his first win in charge of The Magpies, recording a convincing 3–0 victory over Swansea City in the Premier League.
Newcastle ended the season with a six match unbeaten run, including a 5–1 final day win over third-place Tottenham Hotspur. However, the team was relegated to the Championship due to rivals Sunderland claiming 12 points from their final six fixtures. On 25 May 2016, it was confirmed he would remain as manager.
In May 2017, Newcastle won the 2016–17 EFL Championship and made an immediate return to the Premier League after one season in the Championship.
On 24 June 2019, Newcastle announced that Benítez would step down as Manager upon the expiration of his contract, and he departed the club on 30 June 2019. Ashley criticised Benítez stating unfair demands were made making it impossible for him to remain as manager.
On 2 July 2019, Benítez was appointed manager of Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional (formerly Dalian Yifang), signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.
Currently, Rafael Benitez is 62 years, 2 months and 10 days old. Rafael Benitez will celebrate 63rd birthday on a Sunday 16th of April 2023.
Find out about Rafael Benitez birthday activities in timeline view here.