On February 22nd back in 2014 Swansea held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium in the Europa League round of the last 32 – the first knockout round after the Group stage.
Swansea were managed at the time by Garry Monk, who had only just taken over from the sacked Michael Laudrup – and Napoli were managed by Rafa Benitez and at the time Napoli were doing well and 3rd top of Serie A.
Garry Monk and Rafa Benitez before game at Swansea
Swansea had qualified for the knockout stages by finishing second top of Group A with 8 points from their six games and Napoli had qualified by being one of the four best 3rd place finishers in the Champions League group stage.
The game finished 0-0 with Swansea being unlucky not to win the game, but in the second leg on February 27th in Naples, Napoli won 3-1 to progress, but they lost 3-2 on aggregate to Porto in the next round.
And after the game in Swansea, Garry delayed his press conference so he could have a talk with Rafa Benitez.
This is what Garry said about that talk with Rafa – as reported by PA Sport at the time:
“He talked about his experiences at Napoli, and just some advice that I will keep to myself.”
“He was talking about how it has been since he moved to Napoli, what it is like with the club, how he is trying to progress the club forward and what his views are on how to do that.”
“It was good and interesting to hear.” “He gave some advice on the people you have around you, to trust yourself and be your own person, because at the end of the day the buck stops with you.”
“It was brilliant to speak with someone like that.” “I never thought I would be sat with someone like that a few weeks back, so you have got to take it all in while you can.”
“I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity. It was really good to speak with him. He shared a bit of his experiences and some advice, which is really good.”
“You don’t really notice the other manager during the game because you are fixated on your team and everything.”
“You are in the moment trying to do the best you can for your team, but it is great afterwards that you can speak with someone of that experience and that stature in the game.”
Monk was proud of his team that night and they would have won if Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hadn’t been in such great form.
And from Rafa’s comments today in his press conference he is impressed by Garry:
“Garry Monk is a good manager, a young manager who is growing.”
Well the only thing now is the game, but look for Rafa and Garry to have a warm and friendly hand-shake before the battle begins on Sunday afternoon.