Saturday 25 October 2014

Rafa questions Jose's sportsmanship

Published 24/06/2013 | 21:37

Rafa Benitez led Chelsea to Europa League glory last season

Rafael Benitez has made a thinly veiled criticism of Chelsea successor Jose Mourinho.

The Spaniard, who frequently crossed swords with the Portuguese while at Liverpool and during the self-titled 'Special One's' first spell at Stamford Bridge, seemed to suggest Mourinho lacked humility and crossed the line of what was acceptable in order to win.

Benitez told Spanish newspaper AS: "I don't know what Mourinho does. I know what I do: I always want to win, without crossing the line of sportsmanship. It's true that I get on better with some coaches than others and I align myself with those that don't value winning at any cost."

Benitez, who came through the ranks at Real Madrid and played for and later coached their reserve side, Castilla, said that growing up at the Spanish giants helped him understand the values of sportsmanship.

During Mourinho's three-year tenure at the club, which ended at the end of last season when he left the club to return to Chelsea, the Portuguese was attacked by sections of the media for not adhering to these values.

Benitez continued: "I joined Madrid's academy when I was 13 and learned everything there. I received a sporting education from Madrid and I was taught to show respect and dignity towards the opponents whether we won or lost."

Benitez's final months at Stamford Bridge took place to the background of growing rumours that Mourinho was set to replace him at Chelsea, but the former Liverpool boss explained how he focused on finishing his time at the Blues in style by winning the Europa League.

"Everyone at Chelsea knew that Mourinho was going to come back at the end of the season," he admitted. "But that didn't take away any of my ambition or willingness to achieve our objectives and we won the Europa League, which says a lot about the seamless commitment of that sensational team."

Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti is expected to succeed Mourinho at Real Madrid, and Benitez believes the former Chelsea and AC Milan boss, who he came face to face with in the Champions League finals of 2005 and 2007 with Liverpool, will be the perfect replacement for the Portuguese.

He said: "I know him well from Milan because of the finals in Athens and Istanbul and we had a very good relationship when we were both in the Premier League. I think it's the correct choice because he will a conciliator in the dressing room and inside the club. I think the club will appreciate that change."

Press Association

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