Special day for me: Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid coach
Madrid: Rafael Benitez was overcome with emotion as he was presented as the new coach of Real Madrid yesterday. The former Liverpool boss has signed a three-year deal to take charge of the club where he began his coaching career in the youth ranks during the early nineties.
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An excited Rafael Benitez addresses the press after being unveiled as the coach of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Pic/AFP
"It is a special, emotional day for me. I have worked for many years trying to be successful to be able to return here," said the 55-year-old.
Madrid president Florentino Perez has been heavily criticised for sacking Carlo Ancelotti just a year after he won the club's long-awaited 10th European Cup.
However, he claimed Benitez was the right man for the job, hailing him as one of the world's best coaches. "We start a new era with the full confidence that the arrival of our new coach will make us stronger," said Perez. "Your name is a guarantee of hard work. We have one of the best coaches in the world."
Benitez is returning to Spain for the first time in over a decade after making a name for himself with two league titles in three years at Valencia between 2001 and 2004. Yet, he has failed to land a league title in the 11 years since he swapped Valencia for Liverpool.
Benitez's greatest achievement in that time came in winning the Champions League in his first season at Liverpool. However, he delivered only the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup in 2006 in the five years that followed at Anfield.
A nightmare experience followed at Inter Milan where he lasted only six months as Jose Mourinho's successor and another short-lived unhappy spell at Chelsea followed as he was never accepted by the fans despite winning the Europa League in 2013.
A two-year spell with Italian giants Napoli also came to an unsatisfactory end on Sunday with a 2-4 home defeat to Lazio.