Real Madrid have presented Rafael Benitez as their new manager for the next three seasons.
The 55-year-old was unveiled to fans at the presidential box of the Santiago Bernebeu on Wednesday.
Benitez, who began his managerial career at Real’s Castilla B team in 1986 before subsequent spells with the U-19s, Real B side and serving as an assistant to Vicente del Bosque with the senior team in 1994, said “it is an emotional day because I’ve returned home.”
The Madrid native, indeed, returns home after over ten years of club management away from Spain, boosted with success in European competitions.
In the words of Real’s president Fiorentino Perez: “No one better understands what this crest, this jersey and this stadium symbolise. The desires of our fans now depend on you and you will have the support of our members and of a bunch of extraordinarily talented players. Welcome home.”
Away from Real, Benitez’s earliest taste of senior management includes spells with Real Valladolid, Ossasuna, Extrremadura and most notably Villareal, a side he twice guided to Spanish Primeira titles.
After joining Liverpool in 2004, he led the Reds to Uefa Champions League triumph the following year and is also a two-time Europa League winner with Valencia in 2004 and Chelsea in 2013.
Benitez said: “I hope things go well (at Real), that we are able to win titles and also that the team play well. I would like to thank the club for the faith they have shown in my work.”
Concerning his immediate plans for Real, the ex-Napoli boss said he wants to “enjoy” his “great squad” and was coy about discussing contract negotiations.
Asked about Unsettled Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, who has rejected a new £100,000-a-week deal at Anfield, Benitez said: “We admire Raheem, that’s no secret – but he is not one of our players so I can’t really comment on him.”
On Manchester United’s David De Gea, a reported Real target, he added: “I like the way you have tried to sneak that question under the radar but we will evaluate everything in time. We will not name names today.”