BENITEZ: IN PROFILE
The official Chelsea website outlines the career and achievements so far of the 52-year-old Spaniard appointed our interim first-team manager…
Rafael Benitez started his coaching career on the staff at Real Madrid and enjoyed notable success in charge of the equivalent of youth and reserve teams. He also worked as first team assistant to Vicente Del Bosque.
In 1995 he took charge of a senior side for the first time, at Real Valladolid. There followed another short spell at Osasuna and then appointments at Extremadura and Tenerife, both of whom he led into the Spanish top flight.
In 2001 came the step up to one of the big clubs in Spanish football, Valencia, who had lost consecutive Champions League finals under Hector Cuper. With the arrival of Benitez they won their first La Liga title in 31 years and followed that 2002 success with another in 2004. Also that season they won the UEFA Cup, beating a Marseille side spearheaded by Didier Drogba in a final held in Gothenburg.
Benitez resigned from the Mestalla the following summer and moved to Merseyside. In his first season there he was beaten in the League Cup final at Cardiff by Chelsea but went all the way in the Champions League, taking part in one of the most famous finals of all time. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time in Istanbul to Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan. Benitez made a tactical switch and Liverpool tied the score at 3-3 inside 90 minutes before winning on penalties.
The following August they beat CSKA Moscow to win the UEFA Super Cup and that second season resulted in a third-place domestic finish with Liverpool's highest points total since the Premier League began. They also made the FA Cup final, Cardiff again the venue with West Ham the team beaten on penalties this time.
The major finals kept coming in Benitez's third Liverpool season but AC Milan had their revenge for 2005 in the 2007 Champions League decider in Athens.
In 2008/09 Liverpool finished second in the Premier League, four points behind Manchester United, but with important players leaving or injured the following season, that was to be a league high point and in the summer of 2010 Benitez left Liverpool.
He moved to Milan to take over from Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho at Internazionale and immediately won the Italian Super Cup, followed in the December by victory in the FIFA Club World Cup, on that occasion staged in the Middle East. However manager and club parted company just before Christmas.
A native of Madrid, Benitez's career as a player was curtailed at the age of 26 by a knee injury. As would later be the case with his coaching, he began playing at Real Madrid and was working his way through the junior ranks towards first-team football when the injury first struck. He was playing for a Spanish National University Team in an international tournament. His career rise was subsequently slowed but he was able to play first team football for several seasons in the lower leagues in Spain until his coaching ambitions took over.