Now in charge of Real Madrid, the Spaniard led the Merseyside club to the Champions League title in 2005. His captain was in fine form during the competition, in particular during the final against AC Milan. The 35-year-old inspired his side to come back from 3-0 down at half time to win the match on penalties.
“I don’t think Rafa Benitez liked me as a person,” writes Gerrard, “I’m not sure why, but that’s the feeling I got from him. It probably started even before he spoke to me, when he met my mum.”
He continued: “Rafa shook her hand, said hello and then immediately asked her a very blunt question: ‘Does Steven like money?’ Apart from a standard ‘Hello… good to meet you’ introduction, those were the first words Rafa said to my mum. I thought: ‘What kind of question is that?’
He later added: “Our working relationship was ultra-professional and his frostiness drove me to become a better player. I had a hunger to earn a compliment from him — but also a hunger to let him know he really needed me as a player. We were like fire and ice. Passion surged inside me, while Rafa was the strategic thinker.”
This is particularly surprising as what were perhaps Gerrard’s best years came under Benitez. The midfielder helped the Reds to nearly win the Premier League in 2009, as well as the aforementioned Champions League victory.
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The former England international is now playing in the MLS with LA Galaxy. The Anfield hero has made a quick start to life in the USA, scoring in a 5-2 win over San Jose Earthquakes on his debut. He will be hoping to bring further success to the club in the coming years, alongside another ex-Liverpool man in Robbie Keane.