Tuesday 24 April 2018

'I genuinely considered punching Rafa in the face': Istanbul hero came close to clocking Benitez

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Rafa Benitez has Jerzy Dudek's reflexes to thank for the biggest achievement of his managerial career but in the Polish shot-stopper's new book, it is revealed that the Liverpool goalkeeper considered punching his boss after a training ground row.

Although Dudek saved two penalties on the famous night in Istanbul where Liverpool battled back from a three-goal deficit to claim the Champions League trophy after a penalty shoot-out, he quickly found himself marginalised at the club after the signing of Pepe Reina.

Benitez opted to start his compatriot at the beginning of the following season and Dudek quickly decided he wanted to leave the club. After settling on FC Koln in Germany, the move hit a snag and Dudek felt Benitez was the person blocking his departure.

Writing in his new book, 'Jerzy Dudek: A Big Pole In Our Goal', which has been serialised in the Daily Mirror, the Liverpool legend claims he seriously thought about confronting Benitez in an attempt to force an exit from the club.

"To be completely honest, I genuinely considered punching Rafa in the face," he says.

"Then the consequences of doing so flashed through my mind. Would he let me go? Or would it just lead to a massive media scandal? Surely I couldn't stay if I gave him a smack?

"Punching a Liverpool manager who had won the European Cup only a few months earlier wouldn't have looked too good on the CV, I guess, but I was still angry."

However, the Pollish international relented and eventually moved on to Real Madrid. Dudek also praised Benitez's tactical nous but admitted that his old manager wasn't a 'people person' when it came to man mangement.

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