Despite having played 41 times for Real Madrid the previous season, Jose Callejon says that it was an easy decision to leave once Rafa Benitez got in touch.
Altogether, the forward made 21 starts and 20 appearances off the bench for Real Madrid in 2012/13, 30 of his 41 appearances being in La Liga.
Jose Callejon describes himself as being ‘very happy’ at the time but when he got a call from Rafa Benitez he ‘Didn’t hesitate for a second’.
In May 2013 Rafa Benitez had agreed a two year contract with Napoli after his short-term stay at Chelsea saw him guide them to a Champions League qualifying spot and win the Europa League.
Two months later, Rafa contacted Jose Callejon and signed him from Real Madrid.
The now Newcastle Manager told him he was going to score 20 goals and that was exactly what he did in his first season at Napoli across all competitions.
Jose Callejon returns next Wednesday to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie and has only good things about his old boss, who went on to spend his own short time at Real Madrid.
The Napoli forward saying that ‘To manage Real Madrid is very difficult and these things can happen – but he is still a great coach’.
Jose Callejon still keeps in touch with Rafa and has followed this season’s success at Newcastle United, saying the NUFC Manager ‘Deserves it’.
Jose Callejon talking to Spanish sports newspaper AS:
‘When did you feel it was time to leave Madrid?’
“I was very happy but I felt that I had to take a step forward in my career.
“Rafa Benítez called me and told me things were going to be good there (at Napoli) – I didn’t hesitate for a second.”
‘Rafa said “this guy is going to score 20 goals” and he was right!’
“It put pressure on me that did, but it worked (laughs)!
“I was very happy with him (Rafa Benitez), he taught me a lot, we won two trophies and I got my first call-up to Spain. I can only thank him.”
‘Why didn’t it work out for Rafa at Madrid?’
“I don’t know, honestly. To manage Real Madrid is very difficult and these things can happen – but he is still a great coach.
“I’m really glad things are going well in England (at Newcastle), he deserves it.”