There are stories being circulated on how Rafa’s wife and two daughters had an awful lot to do with getting Rafa Benitez to stay on at Newcastle United.
Rafa’s wife Maria de Montserrat and their two daughters Claudia and Agata Benitez have been imploring Rafa to stay on Tyneside, when it was very obvious to them that the people of Newcastle simply loved him.
The two girls were at the Liverpool – Newcastle game on 23rd April when we went 2-0 down but then made that fantastic second half come-back to draw that game 2-2 = and the Geordie fans at the game were in full song throughout the 90 minutes.
Rafa Benitez last night – family urged him to stay at Newcastle
Rafa’s name was sung from the rafters and the passion shown for their Dad by the Geordie fans shocked the two daughters so much that back home in the Wirral that Saturday night they said this to Rafa:
“Dad, you cannot leave these people,” “They love you. You have to stay.”
And then the Chronicle got involved and did their civic duty in great style – by getting over 28,000 fans to sign a petition to implore Rafa not to leave the club.
On the final day of the season, the sell-out 52,00 fans sang Rafa’s name throughout the game and there were placards pleading with Rafa not to leave Newcastle.
The Benitez family just couldn’t believe what was happening on that last day of the season as it looked like we had just won the Premier League.
When you look back at that game and the mood of the crowd and also the way our lads played – who would have thought we had just been relegated?
Newcastle took Tottenham apart 5-1 in that game and scored three goals in the final 20 minutes when we were down to 10 men – and it was in front of a watching Mike Ashley – the only game he has attended this year.
Mike met with Rafa and Lee Charnley that night in the boardroom at St. James’ Park for almost three hours – and Ashley told Rafa he was willing to completely scrap the way he had run the club for nine years – if Rafa would stay.
Ashley agreed to everything Rafa asked him for, including big transfer funds for this summer and next January and the promise that he could keep any player or players he wanted to keep for next season.
Rafa then asked that all of the agreements be written down in a legal document.
Rafa’s wife and daughters – coming from a more emotional viewpoint – implored Rafa to stay on at Newcastle where he was so loved and would be happy working at Newcastle – where everybody already revered him and were as football-mad as he was.
And Newcastle was also just a short one hour helicopter ride back to the family home.
And so one of the most astonishing management signings in Newcastle’s long history has been completed and the fans are still in shock.
But also delighted and inspired that Rafa has shown complete faith in the City, the club and the fans – at a time when we needed it most following another relegation and maybe our worst seasons ever in the Premier League.
This is how Rafa tried to explain some of this last night:
“The first thing for me was the fans, the stature of the club and the future. Also my family is in England and I wanted to stay here.”
“Maybe it’s because I’m older that I’m more emotional now,” “But after the last game against Spurs it would have been very difficult to walk away. It was amazing. I want to repay the fans.” “We need to be back where we belong.”
“I have the reputation, I’ve won trophies,’“But I need a project now.” “The time is right for me to have a challenge, a project.”
“We will have to work hard and prepare for every game like it’s a cup final, but I have a passion for coaching and I’m quite excited about the Championship.”
“Some players have already told me they are quite happy to stay next season because they can see the size of the club and that next year can be a great year if we get promoted.”
Not only is it just unbelievable that Rafa has agreed to stay, but along the way he has also shown he’s an honorable man.
It’s not going too far to say that Rafa has the ability, character and temperament to be one of the greatest managers Newcastle have ever had in their long and glorious history.
That’s what awaits the Newcastle fans and why we are all so ecstatic.