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Rafa Benitez and Leeds United just missed each other

4 years ago

There were just 32 days separating Leeds United and Rafa Benitez.

The 15 May 2004 saw Leeds defeated 1-0 at Chelsea, the final game of the season as the Yorkshire club dropped out of the Premier League, never to be seen there again (13 seasons and counting).

Then on 16 June 2004, Rafa Benitez was appointed Manager of Liverpool.

It sums up the actual length of Leeds United’s absence from the top tier, the fact that Rafa Benitez’ entire Liverpool career happened in their absence, as well as spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Napoli and Real Madrid.

In all of that time, Leeds have been absent from the Premier League and have even spent time in the third tier.

Ironically, Rafa and Leeds also just missed each other in 2001, with the then Premier League side losing to Valencia in the semi-finals of the Champions League in May.

Valencia lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in that final, with Rafa Benitez taking over shortly after and going on to win two La Liga titles in the next three years.

It seems all a little bizarre that despite Rafa Benitez seeming to have been such an important figure in English football for so long, he has never came up against Leeds United in a league match, until now.

Twice Rafa has been to Elland Road in cup games, leading Liverpool to a 1-0 win in September 2009 and then also in the League Cup, returning in December 2012 for a 5-1 victory with Chelsea.

Either of those scorelines would do on Sunday for Rafa and Newcastle.



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