Rafael Benitez Wallpaper (Liverpool)
Rafael "Rafa" Benítez Maudes (born 16 April 1960) is a Spanish football manager. He has been managing English club Liverpool since June 2004.
Born in Madrid, Benítez played football throughout his youth and joined the Real Madrid academy. He mixed his university studies with his football career at lower division Spanish teams but injury caused him to prematurely retire. He joined Real Madrid's coaching staff at the age of 26, going on to work as the under 19 and reserve teams coach, and assistant manager for the senior team. Benítez moved away from Real Madrid but management spells at Real Valladolid and CA Osasuna were short-lived and unsuccessful.
A move to Segunda División side CF Extremadura in 1997 was much more fruitful and Benítez guided the team back to the Primera División in his first season. The team were relegated the following season and he left the club, taking a brief break from football before returning to coach CD Tenerife in 2000. In 2001 Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia CF and he proved himself to be amongst the top Spanish managers by winning La Liga in the 2001-02. Both Don Balón and El País recognised his achievements and he was named Manager of the Year. He proved his mettle in both Spanish and European competition in 2004 by winning the league for a second time and Valencia's first UEFA Cup, making him the most successful Valencia manager in history after just three seasons. However, a disagreement between Benítez and the club director over team investment caused the Spaniard to switch to English Premier League outfit Liverpool.
Benítez was a high-achiever in his first season as he guided Liverpool to victory in the UEFA Champions League, the highest honour in European club football. This made him only the third manager, after Bob Paisley and José Mourinho, to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in successive seasons and the second Liverpool manager, after Joe Fagan, to win the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in his first season in charge. Additionally, in 2005 he won the European Super Cup and was runner up in the Football League Cup. In 2006 he led the team to victory in the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield. Benítez reached the Champions League final again in 2007 but remained unable to finish in the top two of the Premier League, placing third in consecutive seasons.