Jerzy Dudek has revealed in his new book that he was tempted to punch his former manager Rafael Benitez in the face before leaving Liverpool.
The Polish goalkeeper, who spent six years at Anfield and produced a heroic performance in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, describes how Benitez infuriated him to the point he was tempted to assault the Spanish coach.
Dudek wanted to leave Liverpool for Cologne following the arrival of Pepe Reina, but was angered after he was told by the German club that Benitez wouldn’t speak to them.
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“Rafa Benitez is truly passionate about the game,” Dudek explains in his new book, per the Mirror.
“He has a great knowledge of football. He’s not a fool who comes out with theories that are all talk. His problem is that he’s not a great ‘people person’ so always encounters problems when managing a group because he is very cold and hard-faced in how he makes decisions.
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“After the Champions League triumph, I felt he was treating me unfairly, but that’s how Rafa operated. He did everything so coldly, almost inhumanely, because he saw things as business.”
Dudek reveals why he wanted to punch Rafa
Dudek continues: “Then rumours started that I was earning between £60,000-70,000 per week and Benitez wanted me off the wage bill.
“I wondered if someone had made this story up to try and turn the Liverpool supporters against me. I was confused, so I spoke about what Benitez was up to.
“The main interest was from FC Cologne, so I told Benitez I wanted to go there.
“He said it would be a good move for me, adding: ‘We’ll definitely help you, we’ll do whatever it takes to make a deal.’
“The negotiations started. I was in touch with Cologne regularly and they told me Benitez wouldn’t speak to them. I got more and more frustrated with him until transfer deadline day when I finally boiled over.
“As soon as training had finished, I stormed over to him and ripped my gloves off in an aggressive manner. I was so angry that the lads said later the aggression was pouring out of me. I raised my voice.
“The lads could see I was fuming, so all hung around to see what would happen — footballers love seeing a bit of confrontation on the training ground!
“I was furious with him, absolutely fuming, and in my head I could hear a devilish voice saying ‘Punch him in the face – punch him in the face and he’ll let you go to Germany’.
“To be completely honest, I genuinely considered punching Rafa in the face. Then the consequences of doing so flashed through my mind. Would he let me go? Or would it just lead to a massive media scandal? Surely I couldn’t stay if I gave him a smack?
“I don’t know how, but I managed to stop myself.
“Punching a Liverpool manager who had won the European Cup only a few months earlier wouldn’t have looked too good on the CV, I guess, but I was still angry.
‘You said you’d help me. You said you’d do everything to get a deal through. You didn’t mean it. You promised you would help me but now I have a concrete offer you’ve not kept your word.’”
Dudek: Gerrard saw I wanted to punch Benitez
Dudek then goes on to reveal that Steven Gerrard saw it in his face that he wanted to plant one on Benitez.
“As I walked off towards the dressing room, Stevie walked alongside me,” Dudek writes. “‘You wanted to punch him, didn’t you, lad? You really wanted to f***ing punch him…’”
“I explained to the lads in the dressing room how he’d promised to help me move but was now going back on what he said.”
Dudek hardly played during final years of his career
Dudek made a combined 12 appearances for Liverpool in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 campaigns before moving on to Real Madrid for the final years of his career.
However, he only managed to make 12 appearances in four seasons for Los Blancos due to his status as the club’s second-choice ‘keeper behind Iker Casillas.
Should Jerzy Dudek have moved to a club smaller than Liverpool after leaving Anfield? Have your say by leaving a comment below.