Football

Benitez wishes Zidane well

Rafael Benitez has expressed his gratitude for having the opportunity to manage Real Madrid and wished his successor Zinedine Zidane well.

Former Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea and Napoli boss Benitez (above) was replaced by Zidane on Monday after a disappointing seven months as boss. He won 16 out of 25 matches.

Writing on his website, rafabenitez.com, he said: "I would like to wish good luck to Zinedine Zidane, my successor, and his staff.

"To all the players, coaches and staff in both Valdebebas and Bernabeu, I wish all the best and also good luck."

Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti in June, signing a three-year contract with his home-town club.

But the 55-year-old found himself under intense pressure due to some indifferent performances and damaging defeats, most notably the 4-0 home loss to Barcelona in November.

Benitez's final game - Sunday's 2-2 draw at Valencia - left Real in third spot in the Primera Division, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

NO BITTERNESS

The 10-time European champions then removed him and promoted Zidane, but Benitez expressed no bitterness in his parting statement.

"I want everyone at the club from the board of directors, executives, workers and all of the fans, (to) know that it has been an honour and privilege to be in charge at this club, where I grew up as a person, player and coach from the lowest categories through to the first team.

"I would especially like to thank everyone at the new sports city and the Santiago Bernabeu who, since my first steps through the door, have supported me and made my work easier. Thanks to all for helping.

"With all my respect and thanks... Hala Madrid and nothing else." - PA Sport.

Rafa BenitezREAL MADRIDZinedine Zidane