RAFAEL BENITEZ joined us in the studio for episode 10 of The Anfield Wrap podcast and as well as talking about his daughter’s command of Scouse and just how good Steven Gerrard was on the right he told us about Sunday night’s show at the Liverpool Empire.
The show, ‘An Audience with Rafa Benitez’, is being organised in aid of the recently-launched Montse Benitez Foundation and will give the audience an insight into his career, including his six years as boss at Anfield as well as his ideas about the game.
Rafa explained what to expect from the show: “We talk about everything, my biography, but especially Istanbul, the tactics, a lot of things like zonal marking, rotation – all of the questions that people are always asking me!
“The idea is to get into the mind of Rafa Benitez and the main thing is to raise some funds for the foundation and then to give something back to the people here.
“We will use this way because I think we will bring a lot of people and they will be really interested to know what we were doing during these years.”
Asked if it was good to get an opportunity to speak direct to supporters rather than getting his message to them through the media he said he got that kind of opportunity all the time: “To be fair I talk with the people in the streets and always the questions are quite good – and quite dangerous sometimes – but we decided to put everything together because the publicity for the foundation and for the charities will be much better and we will raise more money.”
An immense amount of work has gone into the preparations for the show which kicks off at 7:30pm on Sunday and will make good use of technology. “We’ve been working very hard trying to prepare things,” said Rafa, “I think it will be about maybe an hour and a half (long). We have so many images, and I think it will be quite interesting – we’ll use iPads to show the tactics so I think we will be fine.”
How did the Foundation come about? “From the first day we were here Montse was really pleased, really happy with the interaction with people. At the beginning there were a lot of charities she was trying to help – Hoylake Cottage Appeal, The Lily Centre – and then we decided to do it this way, just to create a foundation.
“People are donating money and launching the foundation means that you can give this money to local charities – and they would receive more money because just to be linked with us the publicity for them is massive and they receive more money.”
Numerous charities are already listed on the Foundation’s website as having received help from the Benitez family and the Foundation but for the show on Sunday the focus will be on a smaller number, says Rafa: “We’ve decided for this event that five charities will receive some money. The rest of the charities (we support) will not receive money from this event, we are especially (focussing) on these five charities so we will help them.”
Rafa explained a little about why the Foundation will focus on smaller charities: “The riding for disabled [Wirral and Chester Riding for the Disabled Group] and the Wirral Autistic Society, these are local charities that you can see every day. That was the main difference for Montse because when she was working for the Red Cross in North Africa she couldn’t see if all the money was going to the right place. Now we can do it straight (to the right place) and that is the main thing.
“She was working there (in North Africa) for six or seven months and at the end she wasn’t happy with what was going on. I was there also for one week, watching, and I was amazed at everything she was doing and here she has been the same.
“For me it’s more effective because she can see the people.”
Rafa had plenty more to say on the podcast (details of how to download it are here) and will obviously have far more to say on what promises to be a fascinating Sunday night at The Empire. There are still some tickets available and details of how to get hold of some can be found here on The Empire’s website.
Having had the pleasure of listening to him first hand all we can say is we highly recommend that you get down there on Sunday and listen to him yourself. And it’s all for a good cause.
We’re pleased to say that Rafa kindly donated three pairs tickets for us to give away to listeners to the podcast. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed – @TheAnfieldWrap – for more details on how you can win.