Rafa Benitez joined the ranks of Real Madrid CF when he was 13 years old and played in various teams from a young boy through youth and amateur teams until the age of 20, winning among other titles the Spanish Youth Championship in 1977-78 and also runner-up in the Spanish Amateur Cup in1979-80.
When he was involved in the Universiada in Mexico in 1979 (similar to the Olympics at university level), he sustained a knee injury that prevented him reaching the second team Real Madrid Castilla and was transferred to AD Parla, where he played 4 seasons, from 1981-1985, during which they were champions of the 3rd Division and won promotion to Second División B.
In his final season 1985-6, before retiring because of a recurrence of his knee injury, he played for CF Linares.
He was also an International player at University level with Spain on 5 occasions and participated in Mexico’s Universiada in 1979 as previously mentioned.
Three seasons as coach of Castilla Youth "B" from 1986-87 to 1988-89.
Coach of Real Madrid Juvenil "B", 1989-90.
Coach of Real Madrid Juvenil "A" and half the 1990-91 season as coach of Real Madrid U-19.
Real Madrid U-19 coach and Assistant Coach Real Madrid B, Division 2, 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.
Real Madrid B Coach, Division 2, 1993-94 and 1994-95 season, as well as Assistant First Team Coach Real Madrid CF, La Liga First Division (93-94).
Real Valladolid SAD Coach, 1 st Division, 1995-96.
Club Atlético Osasuna Coach, Division 2, 1996-97.
CF Extremadura SAD Coach, 2nd and 1st Division, 1997-98 and 1998-99.
CD Tenerife SAD Coach, Division 2, 2000-01 season.
Before that, he spent three seasons as coach of Valencia CF SAD in La Liga (First Division), from 2001-02 to 2003-04.
He spent six seasons as manager of Liverpool FC, from the 2004-05 to 2009-10.
In the 2010-2011 season, Rafa Benitez had managed Inter Milan in winning the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup just six months after joining.
Then, Rafa Benítez joined Chelsea FC in November 2012 and worked hard with his team to instil the highest standards and challenge for honours. Rafa and his team left Chelsea proud of the personal and professional achievement of managing the team to victory at the UEFA Europa League Final in Amsterdam on May 15th. And also proud of successfully achieving our goal of securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League football group stages for Chelsea FC next year and for finishing in third place of the Premier League.
June 21st witnessed the unveiling of Rafa Benitez as head coach of SSC Napoli in the club sports facilities - Castell Neapolitan Volturno. The Madrid born coach appointed by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis was presented to a packed room of 250 journalists from around the world. The press conference was broadcast live and it's impact has been compared to the arrival of Diego Maradona decades ago. In his first season as head of Napoli , Rafa Benítez managed to lift the Coppa Italia - the fifth in the history of the Neapolitan club and the eleventh title in the personal honors of the Madrid born coach. The twelfth title was won after beating Juventus in the Italian Super Cup played in Qatar on 22nd December 2014.
On the 3rd of June 2015 Rafa Benítez was appointed as new coach of Real Madrid. The Madrid born coach returned home, a home filled with past memories of his origins at the club formed by both playing and coaching in Madrid. However, Real Madrid announced his departure just seven months into his tenure on the 4th of January 2016.
Finished his time at Real Madrid, Rafa Benítez signed a contract with Newcastle United FC with the major objective being to stay in the Premier League. The Spanish manager returns to a league he knows well after his crucial years in Liverpool FC, finally returning closer to his family and with a completely new and challenging football project.
After not being able to avoid, though not by much, the relegation to the Championship in his ten games in charge of Newcastle United FC in the 2015/2016 season, Rafa Benítez decided to stay on at the club and build a competitive team to win promotion the following year. The enormous support from the fans was crucial to the Madrid-born manager, and, deciding not to use the clause that would allow him to leave the team in case of relegation he instead focused on creating a competitive team to return to the Premier League as soon as possible.
Finally, on May 8th 2017, Newcastle United FC were declared winners of the Championship, just weeks after solidifying promotion. The fans, who had shown their support for the Spanish manager from day one, were able to enjoy the celebration of a new title for the club and the return of the historic Newcastle United FC to the elite of English football.
Then, in the two following seasons, Newcastle continued to establish themselves in the Premier League. But the newly promoted team had to face some difficulties, such as a notable lack of investment. The team finished 10th in their first season back in the Premier League, and 13th in their second.
On June 30, 2019, Benitez's three-year contract ended and he left Newcastle, although the love for all the fans, who view him as one of the best managers in the 'magpies'' recent history, remains.
Immediately, Rafa Benítez received an offer from China: a new challenge, and the opportunity to put together a new and different project in China. On July 2nd 2019, Benítez was announced as the new coach of the Chinese team Dalian Yifang.The focus was primarily on the development of a common methodology for the entire Club, starting from grassroots football until reaching the First Team and with the support of the Wanda group as sponsor of the whole project, Rafa Benítez began to outline a future plan for the Chinese club.
Whilst preparing for the second season at Dalian Yifang, now renamed Dalian Professional, the terrible global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus began. The project changed completely and had to adapt to the successive and sudden changes in the competition, the regulations, the economic limitations and the prevention measures, especially tough in China. At the end of this atypical season, the need to be close to his family and friends in these difficult moments led him to come to an agreement with the Club to finish the contract. So, on January 23rd 2021, Benítez ended his contract with Dalian Professional in a friendly way, with a special thanks necessary to the club for their understanding in light of this complicated situation.