Rafa Benitez led Liverpool to some of its most glorious achievements of the past 20 years in his time as manager, and fans won't soon forget his impact at the club. Some have even have called for a future reunion between parties, and though that opinion is certainly controversial it speaks to the continued relationship between Benitez and his former fanbase.
Therefore, when Rafa speaks about Liverpool people listen. He talked this week about Steven Gerrard -- a key player during his time in charge -- as Gerrard prepares to bid farewell to Liverpool.
"He has won the Champions League and he has won the FA Cup. He is an icon for the club, a legend and someone that everybody will remember," Benitez said. "For him to be what he is now, thanks to Liverpool, is massive. It's better to be remembered as an icon for your fans, your city and your club than to go to another club."
"He was the key player for us. [Dietmar] Hamann was very good tactically, Xabi Alonso had the quality, Luis Garcia, [Jamie] Carragher had character. But he could do all of these things more or less like the others. He could pass the ball like Alonso, head the ball like [Fernando] Torres, defend like Carragher and tackle like anyone else. He had all of these things together."
"When I talk about quality it's not just the technical ability to do things, it's to do it even under pressure. He could do it because he had so much confidence in his ability."
There has been some perceived friction between Gerrard and Benitez in recent years, so it's nice to hear the former Liverpool manager speak so warmly about a player that meant so much to his career at the club.