Revealed: What it’s really like for a player to work under Rafa Benitez

Luis Garcia has the facts.


Luis Garcia has lifted the lid on what it’s like to play under the demanding rule of Rafa Benitez.

Benitez led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005 and it was Garcia’s semi-final strike that booked their place in the final.

The rest is history. Well, not for everyone, as Garcia fondly remembered working under his fellow Spaniard while talking to the Liquid Football podcast, which is produced by JOE in partnership with Paddy Power.

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“I’m not going to say he was very friendly all the time, but he is the kind of manager who gets 100 per cent out of every single player,” Garcia said.

He squeezes everything out of you and you give him 100 per cent.

“It worked with some players but the other side is you can find some players are not as open to being squeezed that way.”

Benitez takes a famously hands-off approach with his players and even endured a ‘frosty’ relationship with Liverpool’s biggest stars, during his time at Anfield –  as Steven Gerrard revealed back in 2015.

Even so, what would Newcastle give to have him back in the St James’ Park dugout given their recent woes?

Garcia says it is easy to see why the Toon faithful miss him so much and hailed him as the man who transformed his career after taking him to Liverpool from Barcelona in 2004.

“I met him when I was very young and he knew I had potential but he also knew it needed to be polished. It needed to be worked on and he helped me,” he said.

“I was a striker in the academy at Barcelona and I played that way for three years. But he told me ‘no, you cannot play as a striker, you have to play on the wing.’

He added a few things to my game helped me so much in my career.

“Of course, I helped him as well because I could play in four or five different positions and that’s not something that you can find everywhere. I think he almost made a new player out of me. The way he was so detailed, is very important these days. He controls every single thing.

“I was with Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona and he was exactly the same. He was so detailed.”

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