Rafael joined Real Madrid‘s coaching staff at the age of 26, going on to work as the under 19s reserve team coach, and assistant manager for the senior team.
At the start of the 1986–87 season, he was appointed coach of Castilla B. With this team he won two league titles in 1987 and 1989. He won a third league title with Real Madrid Youth B in 1990.
Benitez guided Segunda Division side Extremadura back to the Primera Division in his first season in 1997. He left the club, taking a brief break from football before returning to coach Tenerife in 2000.
When Benitez was appointed coach of Valencia he proved himself to be amongst the top Spanish managers by winning La Liga in the 2001–02 season, and was names Manager of the Year by a number of critics. In 2004, another league title and a UEFA Cup victory were added.
Benitez is well-known to English football fans mainly for his time with Liverpool. He was a high achiever in his first season with the Merseyside club, guiding his team to victory in the UEFA Champions League, the highest honour in European club football. In the following three seasons he won the FA Cup, amongst other honours, and reached the 2007 Champions League Final.
Benitez brought in some of the top Spanish talent in his time at Liverpool, including Barcelona starlet and U-19 Goldenboot winner Dani Pacheco, FC Cadiz super talent Suso, as well as a 15 year old English starlet Raheem Sterling and 16 year old midfield Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton.
Benitez instigated a host of backroom changes at the end of the 2008-09 season to improve the club’s youth development, including the appointment of club legend Kenny Dalglish in a senior role at the Academy.
On 10 June 2010, and only a few days after leaving Liverpool, Rafael Benitez agreed a deal to become the new head coach of Serie A and UEFA Champions League champions Internazionale.
On 21 August 2010, Benítez won his first trophy as manager, the Italian Super Cup, after they defeated AS Roma 3-1. And in the same season he guided Inter to win the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2010.
Rafael Benitez is renowned for his passionate and enthralling motivational speeches, and he is in demand as an after dinner speaker for his football anecdotes and memories.