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Subirats exclusive: Benitez and I back together at Valencia? Why not?!

There are hardly more successful relationships at Valencia Football Club than between Javier Subirats and Rafa Benitez.

Subirats was already a club legend when he was appointed as Valencia's sporting director in 1998.

A talented midfielder, Subirats was a loyal servant for Los Che for 12 years, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Segunda Division title during that time.

But it was his success in the stands which cemented his legacy at Mestalla.

Subirats' most risky move was the hiring of Benitez, who had previously coached clubs such as Tenerife and Extremadura, to replace Hector Cuper in 2001.

It didn't take long for the Madrid native to impress supporters as Valencia won the La Liga title in his first season in charge, the club's first since 1970/71.

The success didn't stop there as Benitez and Valencia broke up the Spanish duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid by winning another La Liga title in 2003/04 and the UEFA Cup.

Benitez shocked Valencia fans when he left the club for Liverpool in the summer of 2004, but his reputation remains strong among supporters.

And Subirats has told Tribalfootball.com that he would be open to reuniting with Benitez at Valencia if the opportunity arose.

"At the moment, Valencia CF is in a particular situation in the hands of a certain Mr Lim," Subirats said. "Perhaps in a future scenario this 'click' could happen again… but in the hands of different owners.

"Myself and Rafa Benitez could perhaps connect, again, and at Valencia. I have always said that the proof is in the pudding regarding how well managers & technical (sporting) directors work together and regarding the sheer amount of work they put in to make it an effective collaboration.

"We have both shown that we are more than capable in our roles at Valencia. If Valencia were to ask us to return, logically, we would be open to returning to Valencia CF…a club that has given us a lot."

Despite the shock of Benitez's exit at the time, Subirats added that he completely understood his compatriots decision.

"When he moved to Liverpool, Benitez chose to changes leagues, to move to another important league, the Premier League. Logically, he was given a really important contract too. He has achieved very, very important titles with Valencia (2 Ligas and 1 UEFA). I wasn't at all surprised that he left. Why? Because it's a normal situation in football…

"It also happened with (Claudio) Ranieri too. He was manager with Valencia CF then, afterwards, he went to Atlético Madrid. Sometimes, managers believe that their stage or time or cycle at a club has come to an end…and they feel that they will be much more motivated if they change teams, something that will be beneficial for both themselves and the clubs."

Benitez went on to manage Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid after leaving Liverpool - where he won the Champions League - in 2010.

He returned to England in 2016 with Newcastle United and spent three seasons at St. James' Park before moving to China with Dalian Yifang.

When asked if he believed Benitez could return to Europe, Subirats insisted his former colleague was more than capable of achieving success on the biggest stage.

"Regarding Rafa Benitez, it is not a surprise that he is not managing in Europe as he has already managed great clubs in Europe and has shown his great capacity as a manager.

"Clearly, there are other markets for football managers outside of Europe and no-one is going to argue with Rafa Benitez's trajectory in football or his impressive curriculum.

"He is a football manager that has outshone others on various levels. He is a coach that is already very well prepared and has shown this too on different continents.

"He is a manager that he could come back and manage any club at Champions League level in England, Italy or Spain or any other country for that matter."

About the author

Will McCarthy

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