Warmth shows as Benitez bids farewell

It was just over a week ago that the Liverpool hierarchy finally confirmed that they had decided to mutually consent to the departure of manager Rafael Benítez. Benítez was officially announced as the new coach of Inter Milan yesterday, with reports coming out of Italy suggesting his transfer fund at his new club will be an astonishing £80m. But Benítez wasn’t presented to the media and fans yesterday, that takes place next week.

Margaret Aspinall, HFSG chairwomanInstead he was in Liverpool, saying his goodbyes after returning from holiday. One of those goodbyes was to the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG). Just to take time out of what must now be a hectic period for him was a touching gesture from a man who had no obligation whatsoever to do so. But then he handed over a cheque for £96,000 of his own money; it takes little imagination to work out just how moving that gesture was to the vast majority of supporters.

Most of the cynics – because there are always cynics – have wisely chosen to keep their opinions to themselves. The few that couldn’t are best ignored, along with their future opinions on issues surrounding the club.

The HFSG knew that Rafa wanted to meet them and say farewell, and they knew he wanted to make a donation. But as chairwoman Margaret Aspinall explained, the really were taken by surprise: “When he handed me the cheque and I looked at it and saw the amount, it was quite emotional,” she said. “I didn’t know he would be so generous.”

Benítez has seen and felt the pain that Hillsborough continues to cause. The man some describe as cold and unfeeling seems to be anything but when he’s dealing with people who actually deserve some warmth. And Margaret, mother of James who was just 18 when he was taken from her, certainly deserves some warmth. She was clearly taken aback by the gesture and led the calls to persuade Rafa to rethink his request for no publicity.

Benitez with Dalglish, 2009 Hillsborough service“He has always been supportive in the past. He just wanted to feel as though he had given something back,” she said. “What he is really doing is thanking the fans and knowing the truth is in their hearts. It shows where his heart is.”

Few of those who pass judgement on Rafa’s character have actually ever spent a great deal of time with him, but Margaret always speaks from the heart, she isn’t trained in how to say the right thing for PR purposes, she says what she means. And her words call into question so much of what is said about the man: “He is just a nice, genuine man. We have never had this before from any manager. He didn’t have to come and meet the committee personally – it was an absolutely fantastic gesture.”

Speaking about how it will be put to use, she said: “It will keep the memorial service going for a long time to come and will pay expenses that we cannot afford as individuals.”

Asked what she said when he handed the cheque over, she said: “What can you say to that? We said thank you on behalf of the 96.”

But to Margaret the gesture had a much larger meaning, hence the reasons for her to push for it to be made public: “I think the fans need to know about the gesture. I am not talking about the money, but how he feels for the fans. He feels so much compassion for the fans and I think he is going to miss them. It was just nice to know that he wanted to see us before he went.”

17 thoughts on “Warmth shows as Benitez bids farewell”

  1. Can’t imagine that creep Purslow or the Chelsea supporting ‘Chairman’ doing anything similar.

  2. However people felt about Rafa they have to admit that was an extraordinary gesture.

    It may take some sections of fans some time to realise it but Rafa will be missed

  3. When it came to Football, He was very misunderstood. But this shows us all as a man he was very special, Indeed. The key quote here is “We have never had this before from any manager” . That alone should shut a few people up. Alot of people do not realise he does not “Have” to donate but he “Chose” to. And thats great enough for me.

    Personally, I feel we are on a downward spiral since the news of the leveraged buy-out broke out. And Rafa being forced out or deciding to leave (depending on what you want to belive) is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Thanks Jim for all the hard work you have put on this blog. Lets just hope its not all in vain. I hope a possible new buyer reads all this work and considers buying the club at some point. I know its fantasy but its just hope we all have left in the end.

    Who knows if new owners come in and realise what Rafa has done and considers a bid noting that Rafa is only a 2 year contract might bring him back with the chance to spend big and bring the best players which was what he wanted when new owners came in 2007. Otherwise we can’t compete in today’s market with the Man City’s, Chelsea’s, Barca’s and mostly Real Madrid.

    You never know.

  4. I hope that all those, fans and press who had been baying for Rafa’s dismissal realise what Liverpool Football Club have lost.
    I, for one, will miss Rafael “Rafa” Benítez Maudes, and I wish him and his family the very best of luck in the future.

  5. I’m a Chelsea supporter….

    However, I am always moved when I ever read or hear anything said about Hillsborough. I remember the Saturday well, where I was etc….

    Fair play to Rafa, a lovely touch which I’m sure brought lots of warmth to those who still work hard for what is right for the families & friends who lost loved ones.

  6. @ John McBride – Nice comments mate.

    It’s much more than just football, always has been at LFC, Rafa knew it and those that rallied behind him near the end knew it as well.

    Those who wanted him out, media and fans alike, who spread the rumors and non-facts should hang their heads in shame.

    Our Football club has lost its way.

    You’re one of us Rafa – YNWA

  7. Phil – Those amongst supporters with awareness of history and a sense of financial witchcraft in practice at the moment in our boardroom already know what we have lost and how low our management stoopped is sacking a manager on holiday. Those who only know how to shout and abuse don’t really matter. They represent the glory hunting bandwangon incapable of relating success to commitment and resource. No point in addressing them whetherthey sit in the stands or enjoy payroll media jobs. “Thankyou” banners must go up for Rafa at our first home game coming season. At the same time “Shame on you” banners for Hicks/Gillette/Purslow.

  8. i really do believe that 2 more year at the club and he would of been a life long liverpool fan, that man lived for the club, thank you rafa, we will miss you

  9. We can all agree or disagree about Rafa’s footballing ideas but one thing was never in doubt – his love for Liverpool Football Club.
    A great man and I for one will miss him.

  10. thank RAFA, i`m and all livpool fan will miss u , i know from the first day u come to this club , u love this club so much, and its all about LFC…..shame to Yankie…..please hicks/gillets go to our club…..no place to both of u at LFC…just go

  11. Everytime I read about the moment Rafa visited the HFSG and presented them with that cheque I get choked up. Here was a man that didn’t need to do this but yet chose to as not only does he love the club, the fans and the city he also feels like we all do in wanting the truth and justice. Regardless of what people think of him as a manager he is still an honest, genuine, kind, down to earth man who took us to his heart and we took him to ours. Just looking at his last public appearance in Liverpool speaks volumes to how he really felt here.

    Thanks for the memories Rafa. You’ll be sorely missed and YNWA.

  12. (You may have already heard this)

    From the Echo, on Twitter:

    @LivEchoLFC: Rafa Benitez donates “significant” amount to Liverpool’s Lily Centre http://bit.ly/c4y6S0 #LFC #LiverpoolFC

  13. Thank You Rafa

    Of all the Managers we had after Shankly especially for a foreigner, Benitez was one of a kind!! He was one who really studied Bill Shankly’s ways, ethos, principles and ideas. Benitez was not only known for details when preparing for a game, but was very detailed in doing the Liverpool way.

    He did not just want once off success, although with little money, he was looking to prepare the team for the return of the Great Liverpool dynasty.
    He was unfortunately missunderstood by many in the media especially because he did not present to be their type of man and too often because they saw him as threatening their own child hood heroe at Old Truckport.
    Unfortunately, too, Liverpool was sold to the Yanks and those left with the team Boardroom (Purslow and peers), never understood the Livepool way and were too caught up in their own echoes and somehow naive Moore who understood Benitez was gone.

    And now we will live to regret for a long time, the opportunity we have lost.
    Benitez was never goiung to win, even on the nights he defeated, Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter, Chesea, Man U, there was always away to blame him. When Gerard, Torres, Benayoun, Macherano and all the other grew to prominence under him, he still was labelled as cold.

    Thank you Rafa for reaching out to those who really matter, our fans, especially those with so much pain!!

    And the fact that he did not want any publicity, is the just to show how “Liverpool -way he was”.

    I hope to live to see him come back home!!!!

  14. Once i have my £500 saved for my share, i’m saving for my trip to Milan. I’ll save money on not going to Anfield and my shirt anyway, much rather spend it on a trip to Milan and a banner thanking Rafa.

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