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Exclusive: Valencia legend Torres insists Benitez still capable of managing top club

Curro Torres knew Rafa Benitez long before the Spaniard became one of the world's most successful coaches.

Benitez's coaching odyssey begun younger than most, at the age of 26, with the Real Madrid U19s and reserves.

A senior coaching post at Real Valladolid opened in 1995 and Benitez took it with both hands.

Spells at Osasuna and Extremadura followed before Benitez reached his first success with Tenerife, where he met a young loanee right-back in Torres.

Under Benitez's tutelage, Tenerife won promotion to La Liga by finishing third behind Sevilla and Real Betis.

But Benitez wouldn't manage Los Chicharreros in the top-flight, instead accepting an offer from Valencia in 2001.

Torres and Benitez would go on to have immense success together at Mestalla, winning two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup together.

Asked how Benitez differed in his methods at Tenerife and Valencia, Torres told TribalFootball.com: "Rafa Benitez was the same at Tenerife as he was at Valencia CF, methodical and effective.He had the real capacity to get the very best out of his players, in many aspects.

"It's perhaps not very nice to experience first-hand being pushed to the very limit as a footballer… by a very demanding manager.However, with hindsight, you realise what a special manager and special person Rafa Benitez was and still is.

"Off the pitch, I saw a lot of humanity in his approach and you learn from those unique qualities too. Without doubt, it was enriching as a player and as a person to have been managed by Rafa Benitez.

"I have followed his trajectory and he has applied the same demanding approach at different clubs but it hasn't always worked out because the players are different, like Benitez's difficult time at Real Madrid…for example. However, Benitez is a very ambitious and there is no doubt that he has achieved a lot at top level over the years in the world of football."

Benitez - who has also coached Liverpool, Real Madrid, Inter Milan & Napoli amongst others - is now a free agent after leaving Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang at the start of 2021.

And Torres believes his former manager can still succeed at a big club, but a return to Valencia would only happen if he could come to an agreement with current owner, Peter Lim.

"Yes, I believe Rafa Benitez deserves to be managing again, at top level, when the time is right," Torres said. "On the outside, from his base in England, he is always assessing and observing football and the major leagues, especially.

'Regarding the talk of coming back to Valencia one day. If he were to come back to Valencia CF, I feel that he would only agree to it (via the owners) with the promise of a guaranteed & really solid project and long-term plan for success."


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