Rafa Benitez has been welcomed into a very special club by Sir Alex Ferguson on Thursday night.

The Newcastle boss has now managed over 1,000 matches in professional football.

At a ceremony in London on Thursday night, the LMA (League Managers Association) recognised the achievement.

Rafa couldn’t be there in person, as he has the small matter of Newcastle facing Leicester on Saturday.

Newcastle United official announcement:

Rafa Benítez was inducted into the League Manager Association’s 1000 Club and Hall of Fame at the LMA President’s Dinner in London on Thursday night.

The Newcastle United boss was honoured at the event at The Dorchester, which was attended by 350 invited guests including England manager Gareth Southgate, for reaching 1,000 professional games in the dugout last term.

Carlo Ancelotti, Tony Pulis, Claudio Ranieri and John Toshack MBE were formally inducted into the LMA’s Hall of Fame during the evening, while Benítez and Sven-Göran Eriksson, who were both unable to attend, were inducted in absentia.

Benítez is currently preparing for Saturday’s game against Leicester City. Southgate and Sir Alex Ferguson presented the new 1000 Club members with trophies hand-crafted by Thomas Lyte, appointed Goldsmiths and Silversmiths to Her Majesty The Queen.

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex said:

“Congratulations to Carlo, Rafa, Sven, Tony, Claudio and John on surpassing this extraordinary milestone in football management.

“They join a select group of 24 managers, some of the most decorated and experienced individuals in the game, in a very special club.

“It takes decades of sacrifice, resilience and talent to build such marvellous careers in the game and each of these managers has experienced every emotion and every challenge that comes with the job, and achieved a great deal.

“I’m delighted to welcome them into the LMA 1000 Club and wish them all further success in their managerial careers.”

Southgate added: “It was a privilege to be able to welcome these highly respected managers, their families and friends to the LMA President’s Dinner tonight and recognise their remarkable accomplishments in football.

“The significance of reaching 1,000 games in football management at the elite level cannot be understated and it is clear that their dedication to the profession has enabled them all to be successful in many different ways.

“They are an example for all young managers, demonstrating what can be achieved in the game through hard work and dedication.”