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“I believe he is wrong” – Rafa Benitez responds to Steven Gerrard claims

Rafa Benitez has rejected Steven Gerrard’s claims that the pair endured a “emotionless and distant relationship” at Liverpool.

LIEGE, BELGIUM - Tuesday, August 12, 2008: Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez and captain Steven Gerrard MBE during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round match against Royal Standard de Lie?ge at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After Steven Gerrard’s claims that “I don’t think Rafa Benitez liked me as a person,” the former Liverpool manager has responded, saying “I believe he is wrong.”

Gerrard’s new autobiography, serialised in the Mail, covers his time under Benitez, with the 35-year-old claiming that his “frostiness” made him a better player.

“I don’t think Rafa Benitez liked me as a person. I’m not sure why, but that’s the feeling I got from him,” he said.

Gerrard later added: “I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers. Except for Rafa.

“It’s a shame because we probably shared the biggest night of both our careers — the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul — and yet there is no bond between us.”

During Benitez’s time as Liverpool manager, Gerrard was one of the best midfielders in world football, scoring 16 league goals in 2008/09.

But, unlike Gerard Houllier, Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson, Gerrard didn’t enjoy a friendship with the Spaniard.

“If we were to bump into each other tomorrow there would be no unpleasantness but maybe a day will come when we can actually have a deeper and friendlier conversation and reflect on everything we experienced at Liverpool,” he continued.

“Our working relationship was ultra-professional and his frostiness drove me to become a better player.

“I had a hunger to earn a compliment from him — but also a hunger to let him know he really needed me as a player.

“We were like fire and ice. Passion surged inside me, while Rafa was the strategic thinker.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 21, 2010: Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez prepares to see his side take on Manchester City during the Premiership match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, Benitez rejected these claims, speaking to Spanish television on Monday.

“I have read the quotes and I believe he is wrong,” he said, according to the Mail.

“Out of the respect that I have for Stevie and for the value and appreciation I have for him, and for Liverpool and the supporters, I think it’s best to just let it pass.

“He has brought out a book and now I’m the Real Madrid manager, that sells.”

There is clearly no love lost between the pair, but as Gerrard attests, this friction spurred him to a world-class level at Liverpool.

Without Benitez, Gerrard arguably would not have reached the heights he did.

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