Thu 24 June 2021 | 19:29

Rafa Benitez Biography

Known as the most successful manager of Valencia, he has coached many top European teams during his career. In this article, we will take a look at Rafa Benitez biography.

Rafael Benitez, born 16 April 1960 in Madrid, is a Spanish football coach and former football player, who played as a defender or midfielder for some Spanish football clubs. As a coach, he has managed many different teams in Europe and Asia on the club level.

His playing career was affected by a series of injuries, and he started coaching the youth teams at Real Madrid before starting his professional career at Real Valladolid. He then went on to coach Osasuna, CF Extremadura and Tenerife. He then moved to Valencia CF, where he won the Spanish La Liga twice and the UEFA Cup.

Rafael Benitez then headed to Liverpool Football Club where he won a Champions League title in 2005 and reached the final again in 2007. Within six months of joining Chelsea, replacing Roberto Di Matteo, he led the team to victory in the Europa League on 15 May 2013, beating Benfica in the final 2-1.

He became the fourth coach to win the UEFA Cup/Europa League twice and the second coach to do so with two different teams following Giovanni Trapattoni. Also, he is the only coach to ever win the UEFA Cup and the Champions League in two consecutive seasons with two different teams.

He has established his reputation as the "king of cups": as he has thirteen titles (5 international) on his record, which he won in three different countries (Spain, England and Italy) and in charge of six teams (Valencia, Liverpool, Inter, Chelsea, Napoli and Newcastle).

All You Need to Know About Rafa Benitez Biography

A remarkably calm character, but still exposed to controversies and disputes, he has been named Manager of the Month six times and UEFA Coach of the Year twice. His career has been mainly associated with Liverpool, with whom he reached two UEFA Champions League finals in two years, the first won in 2004-05 and the second lost in 2006-07; both times the Reds faced Carlo Ancelotti's

AC Milan

in the final.

Rafa Benitez Information

Now we want to share some more general information about him in this section of

Rafa Benitez biography

such as

Rafa Benitez nationality

to let you know him even more and better.

Rafa Benitez Bio

  • Full Name: Rafael Benitez Maudes

  • Nickname: Number 10

  • Profession: Professional Footballer

Rafa Benitez Physical Stats

  • Weight: N/A

  • Height: 1.75 m

  • Eye Color: Green

  • Hair Color: Brown

Rafa Benitez Football Information

  • Position: Midfielder

  • Jersey Number: N/A

  • Professional Debut: 1978

Rafa Benitez Date of Birth and Personal Info

  • Date of Birth: 16 April 1960

  • Birth Place: Madrid, Spain

  • Zodiac Sign: Aries

  • Nationality: Spanish

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Rafa Benitez biography

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Rafa Benitez


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Rafa Benitez Early Life

As a young football player, Rafa Benitez went to several schools around Madrid and played for various school teams. Some of his school friends and teammates included future Spanish footballer Ricardo Gallego. He showed early coaching potential when, at the age of thirteen, he started coaching a children's football team.

When he was twelve years old, Benitez was brought into one of Real Madrid's youth teams. His first experience as a defender was with the club's amateur teams in the fourth division, then he made his way to the Madrid team's second division side Castilla. In 1982 he also became a sports student at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and graduated with a degree in Physical Education.

Benitez was called up to the national football team which represented Spain in the 1979 Universiade games in Mexico City. In the very first game, which ended in a 4-0 win for the Spaniards against Cuba he was on the pitch. He was injured in the next game, a 0-0 draw with Canada, after a tough tackle. This injury forced him out of action for a year and put a damper on his chances of playing at the top level.

Benitez moved to fourth division club Parla in 1981. His time there was at first on loan, but he eventually signed a permanent contract and helped the club gain promotion to Segunda B, Spain's third league. For the Spanish university team, he subsequently played three more games.

Then in 1985 he moved to another third division club, Linares, where he was a player and at the same time an assistant to Enrique Mateos. Later on, due to health problems, he had to miss almost the entire 1985/86 season and finally he decided to end his playing career.

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Rafa Benitez biography

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Rafa Benitez Profile

After retiring from playing football, he became part of Real Madrid's technical staff in 1986. From 1986 to 1991 Benitez gained experience with Real Madrid's youth teams, winning 6 trophies. He received his coaching license in 1989 and in the summer of 1990 he was teaching at UC Davis in California. Between 1991 and 1993 he coached Real Madrid's Under-19 team and from 1993 and 1995 Real Madrid B.

He also served as assistant coach to Real's coaches Antic, Beenhakker, Floro, Del Bosque and Valdano between 22 March 1991 and 1995. His first stint as a coach of non-youth teams outside Real Madrid's technical area was not successful.

He was recruited as coach of Real Valladolid for the 1995-1996 season in the top flight but was fired after achieving 2 wins in 23 games, with the club in the bottom place of the Primera División. The next season he moved to


, in the second tier, but even this experience ended prematurely with an early dismissal after nine league games.

He was hired by Extremadura in 1997 and this time he managed to lead the team to promotion to the top flight, ending the league as second in the standings behind Alavés, with 23 wins in 42 games. Nevertheless, Extremadura only stayed in La Liga for one year: the year after they were relegated from the top flight after finishing seventeenth and losing the playoffs to Rayo Vallecano.

Benitez then left the team to focus on theoretical coaching studies at clubs such as

Manchester United

and Arsenal. He was also working as a commentator and analyst for Eurosport, Marca, El Mundo Deportivo and a few local Madrid TV stations.

He was employed as coach of Tenerife in 2000, and in a team that included players such as Mista, Curro Torres and Luis García, he won promotion to La Liga once again, completing the season in third place in the league table, behind Sevilla and Betis.



signed him in the summer of 2001, as a replacement for Hector Cuper, who moved to Inter. He preferred to use a 4-4-2 initially, with two strikers, Angulo and Mista, and two pure outfielders on either side, left-back Vicente on the left and Rufete on the right.

Throughout the season he made his greatest tactical masterpiece, by imposing an innovative playing form on the team: the 4-2-3-1 that favored the position of Pablo Aimar, who was converted from a trequartista into an additional midfielder who acted as the high vertex of the midfield triangle enabling numerical superiority in the hot zone of the field.

This new form marked a turning point in the season which ended with the La Liga victory. The following season, Valencia failed to defend their Spanish league title, and ended the season in fifth place, securing them a place in the UEFA Cup. Later that season, Benitez debuted in the UEFA Champions League, where Valencia was knocked out by Inter Milan in the quarter-finals.

He led Valencia to their sixth domestic title the following season, repeating their success of two seasons earlier, while at the same time winning their first European trophy with a 2-0 UEFA Cup win over Olympique Marseille in the final. Benitez also won UEFA's Coach of the Year award for the 2003-04 season.

He announced to the press a week after his European success that he rejected the offer to extend his contract with Valencia and resigned with immediate effect from his position as manager of the Spanish club, partly due to misunderstandings over the team's transfer policy. He finished his time at Valencia with two league titles and a UEFA Cup in three seasons.

Stay tuned to this section of Rafa Benitez biography as we want to share some more information about his career at Liverpool.


He joined


in the 2004-05 season, replacing Gérard Houllier on the English club's bench. Benitez persuaded captain Steven Gerrard to stay with the Reds, then pressured the club to buy two players from the Spanish La Liga (Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso) and was able to develop the skills of defender Jamie Carragher. Liverpool finished the season with fifth place in the Premier League and runner-up in the Football League Cup following a 3-2 loss to Chelsea.

However, Benitez produced a tactical masterpiece in the UEFA Champions League, focusing on defence and taking the Reds to the final. They faced the heavily favoured AC Milan side coached by Carlo Ancelotti. In the first half, the Rossoneri were 3-0 up, with Liverpool not able to play and struggling in defence.

During the second half, it was the tactical change of the Spanish coach that enabled Liverpool to change gear: the addition of Šmicer (who came in the first half) and Hamman (who came in the second half) and the position change of Gerrard (more on the right in a role between full-back and half-back) helped the English team to come back from the disadvantage and to win on penalties against the Rossoneri.

Through this victory, Benitez became the only manager to have won the UEFA Cup and the Champions League in two consecutive seasons with two different teams and recaptured the Coach of the Year award.

The next season, the Spanish coach started off the new season by winning the European Super Cup against Russian

CSKA Moscow

with a score of 3-1. Following losing the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup to São Paulo in the final, Liverpool went on to win the FA Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw against West Ham and closed the league in third place. However, in the UEFA Champions League, defending champions Liverpool was defeated in the round of 16 at the hands of Benfica.

Following the arrival of Javier Mascherano in midfield in the winter of 2007, the coach made changes to the squad and the line-up: Rafa Benitez moved the Argentine midfielder to the centre of the pitch as an anchorman, gave Gerrard more freedom and dropped one of the two forwards, although not the two full-backs.

The 2006-2007 season started with a 2-1 Community Shield victory over Chelsea. The Reds finished the season in third place and lost the Champions League final to AC Milan 2-1. During the 2007-08 season, Liverpool reached the fourth position in the Premier League and the Champions League semi-finals but was defeated by Chelsea 1-1 and 2-3. During his last two seasons in charge of Liverpool, he finished second and seventh in the Premier League and was eliminated in the Champions League in the quarter-finals (by Chelsea) and in the group stage (by


and Lyon).

Also in the final season, because of their third-place finish in the Champions League group stage, Liverpool gained access to the Europa League, in which they were eliminated in the semi-finals by

Atlético Madrid


The English club, announced on 3 June 2010, in a statement on their website that they had mutually agreed to part ways with the coach after six seasons of winning a Community Shield, an FA Cup, a Champions League and a European Super Cup.


Benitez took over as


coach on 10 June 2010, with a contract running until 30 June 2012. He, therefore, replaced Portuguese José Mourinho, who had led the Nerazzurri to the treble only a few weeks before. As Eto'o was no longer in shape to play on the left-wing and the young Biabiany and Coutinho were too inexperienced, Benitez gave up for the first time in his career the high flankers and positioned Pandev wide on the left.

It was more difficult to place Sneijder, who was never at ease in the Spanish coach's game. In his first official appearance the following 21 August he got his first trophy: the Nerazzurri won 3-1 against Roma, with a goal from Pandev and a double from Eto'o, securing the Italian Supercup. His international debut was not as lucky six days later: in fact, Inter were defeated by Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Supercup (2-0 in).

After an early-season plagued by a number of injuries and inconsistent performances that questioned his tenure on the Nerazzurri's bench, because, after 15 matches, Inter was already 10 points off the top. On 18 December 2010, he led the team to the Club World Cup, where they defeated the Congolese TP Mazembe 3-0 in the final, bringing Inter back to the World Cup after 45 years, and giving him his third title.

The Milanese club announced the mutual termination of the relationship with the coach five days after the triumph, on 23 December, in an official statement published on their website. He was replaced on 24 December by Leonardo, former Milan coach.

Stay tuned to this section of Rafa Benitez biography as we want to share some more information about his




On 21 November 2012, Benitez made an agreement with Chelsea until the end of the season to replace the sacked Roberto Di Matteo. His time on the Blues' bench was a difficult one, as the fans were quick to criticise him from the stands with banners and boos. In terms of the team, Benitez was able to boast a very offensive formation this time with Lampard, trequartists Oscar and Mata, as well as a more balanced player like Ramires, who was frequently used with more defensive tasks.

In the first part of the season, the team was not successful. Chelsea, the defending European champions, were knocked out of the group stage of the Champions League and entered the Europa League. It was the first time in history that the holders of the Champions League trophy were eliminated in the group stage. Chelsea subsequently lost the Club World Cup final to Corinthians 1-0.

Benitez led Chelsea to a third-place finish in the Premier League at the end of the season and, on 15 May 2013, they won the Europa League with a 2-1 victory over Benfica. This was the second personal success in Europa League for the Spanish coach in his career and together with Giovanni Trapattoni, José Mourinho, and Unai Emery, he made himself one of four coaches to win the trophy with two different teams.


He was signed as


coach on 27 May 2013, with a two-year contract (with an option for a third year) earning €3.5 million per season. He was assisted by a technical staff composed of Fabio Pecchia as an assistant coach, Xavi Valero as goalkeeping coach, Francisco de Miguel Moreno and Corrado Saccone - the latter was already in the technical staff of the previous Mazzarri management - as fitness coaches and analysts Antonio Gómez Pérez (for tactics) and Pedro Jiménez Campos (for opposing teams).

With the arrival of the Spanish coach, Napoli experienced a profound metamorphosis in its core structure, moving from 3-4-2-1 to 4-2-3-1. The use of Slovakian Marek Hamšík, employed by Benitez as a central trequartista was difficult and not always with great results.

On 25 August 2013, he debuted on the Napoli bench with a 3-0 win over Bologna in the first match of the season. His first trophy with Napoli came on 3 May 2014, winning the Coppa Italia 3-1 against Fiorentina in the final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, as he had already done at the helm of Valencia, Liverpool, Inter and Chelsea.

He finished his first season with the Neapolitan club by leading the team to a 3rd place finish in the league, thus establishing his own all-time record for goals scored and away wins. He participated in the UEFA Coaches' Forum Club d'Èlite in September 2014, during which he received a commemorative plaque for the 100 games played in the Champions League.

Having experienced a below-expectations transfer market with several players leaving, the team was unable to repeat a good start to the season and went out in the UEFA Champions League preliminaries against

Athletic Bilbao

(1-1), eventually gaining access to the Europa League. The team won the Italian Super Cup against Juventus on 22 December, his second personal success in this competition and tenth trophy overall in his career.

This trophy was the only success of the season, as the Neapolitan team finished the season in fifth place in the league due to a 2-4 home defeat against Lazio and was eliminated in the semifinals of both the Coppa Italia and the Europa League.

As his contract was due to expire in June, on 28 May, during a joint press conference with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis, Benitez made the announcement that he was leaving the Napoli technical leadership after two years. He finally left Napoli on 1 June.

Real Madrid

Benitez was introduced as the new Real Madrid coach on 3 June 2015, with whom he signed a three-year contract worth €5.2 million net per season, and the same day he was presented to the press. In this way, Benitez became the fourth Madrid-born coach to lead the Blancos after Paco Bru, Miguel Muñoz and Mariano García Remón. In terms of the technical staff, he was followed by deputy Fabio Pecchia. He debuted on the Blancos' bench with a scoreless draw against Real Sporting de Gijón.

Following a 2-2 draw at Valencia on 4 January 2016, he was released by the Spanish club, leaving the Blanco club 4 points off the top, qualified for the Champions League round of 16 and knocked out of the Copa del Rey due to a bureaucratic mix-up.

Newcastle United

After Steve McClaren was sacked on 10 March 2016, Newcastle United's board, who were then in second-to-last place in the Premier League, signed Benitez for an initial period of ten matches (until the end of the season), which included a three-year renewal option if they managed to stay in English Premier League. Newcastle was relegated with one day to go before the end of the season on 11 May 2016, as they were penalised by the victory and safety achieved by


(3-0) in the rematch with Everton.

The Spanish coach was confirmed on the Magpies' bench for the following season in the Championship, winning in a comeback against Brighton on the final day of the season, and immediately bringing Newcastle back to the top division. With his contract due to expire in June 2019, he refused the extension offered by the club and left the Magpies' bench after just over 3 years.

Dalian Yifang

He was officially appointed as the new coach of Dalian Yifang on 2 July 2019, on a contract worth €13.5 million per year. His team was knocked out of the Chinese Cup in the first round at the hands of Shandong Luneng, while they finished 12th in the league.

After the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he left the Chinese club in January 2021, claiming he and his family’s health concerns as the main reason.

Stay tuned to this section of Rafa Benitez biography as we want to share some more information about his coaching style.

Style of Play

He likes to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, using short and aggressive pressing in his teams that are able to exploit the full width of the pitch in the possession phase. Benitez has built his career over time by carefully planning his training method, mainly investing in more and more advanced technological tools to improve the analysis of the game and the communication with his players. He carefully calculates the intensities and frequencies of the training sessions and has the habit of noting the game changes on a blackboard.

Earlier in his career, he used the 4-4-2, but during his first season at Valencia in 2001, he changed his tactical system from the 4-4-2 to the final 4-2-3-1 in order to make the trequartista Pablo Aimar play consistently between the lines of midfield and attack, a position in which the Argentine could express his talent more, thus moving back one of the two strikers.


With the many competitions he won during his career as a football coach, he has developed a reputation for himself as king of cups. Benitez is considered by many to be one of the best Spanish football coaches of his generation.

Rafa Benitez outside Football

From a very young age, Rafa Benitez has dedicated his life to football and even his numerous injuries didn’t stop him from pursuing a career in football, this time as a coach. Following many years of working with many European teams and after resigning as the coach of Dalian Yifang, these days Rafa Benitez spends most of his time with his family.

Rafa Benitez Personal Life

In this section of Rafa Benitez biography, we want to take a deeper look into the footballer’s personal life and share some info such as

Rafa Benitez life story


Rafa Benitez religion


Family, Children and Relationships

He is the son of Francisco, an Atlético de Madrid fan, and Rosario Maudes, a Real Madrid supporter. He is the middle of three siblings.

In 1998 he married María de Montserrat, who he met while working at the Abasota Gymnasium in Madrid. They have two daughters, Claudia, born in Madrid in 1999, and Ágata, born in Valencia in 2002.

He fluently speaks Spanish, English and Italian.


Together with his wife, Rafa Benitez has founded a charity foundation in Liverpool and the couple manage it together. On its website, the foundation says that its primary goal is to help other small charity foundations to raise funds.

Legal Issues

At the time of writing this article, there are not any reports on media regarding any legal issues or disputes to Rafa Benitez’ name.

Rafa Benitez Career Statistics

In this section of Rafa Benitez biography stay tuned as we want to share some information about his career stats both on the club and international level.


As a football player, between 1974 and 1987, Rafa Benitez has played more than 300 matches in all competitions for the likes of Real Madrid youth ranks, AD Parla and Linares CF. However, the exact number of his matches played and the goals he scored is unknown.


Since the start of his coaching career at Real Madrid CF "B" and the day he resigned from his position at Dalian Yifang, Rafa Benitez has managed his teams in 1148 matches, where his teams were on the winning side on 565 occasions. He has also lost on 308 matches and drawn in 275 of them. He has a win ratio of 57.2% during his managerial career.

Rafa Benitez Honors

His only club level title as a player was the 1981-82 Tercera División which they won with Parla.

As a manager, he has many titles in his silverware, including

La Liga

, UEFA Cup, FA Cup, FA Community Shield,

Champions League

, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Europa League and many others.

He has also won many personal awards, which the most notable of them includes La Liga Best Coach, UEFA Manager of the Year, European Coach of the Year—Alf Ramsey Award and the LMA Special Merit Award, among others.

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