It’s sure to be an emotional return to Anfield for Rafa Benitez on Saturday.
The Spanish boss takes his Newcastle side to face Liverpool in the Premier League and it will be just the second time Benitez has returned to Merseyside since he left the club “by mutual consent” in 2010.
There’s no doubt that Benitez is loved by Liverpool fans.
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He led them to an incredible Champions League triumph in his debut season before lifting the FA Cup the following campaign. He came very close to leading the Reds to their first ever Premier League trophy in 2008/09 but eventually finished four points behind Manchester United.
But, after a seventh-placed finish the following season, Benitez left the club - on good terms.
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He returned to Anfield as Chelsea manager in 2013 and was given a fantastic reception and the same is expected again tomorrow.
But it won’t just be the fans giving Benitez a hero’s welcome. Current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has also declared his admiration for him.
Klopp on Benitez
"I know him, I like Rafa. We met each other a few times at UEFA meetings, he is a very successful manager, nice person, and I really like him,” Klopp told reporters, per the club’s official website.
"From my point of view, if somebody wants to celebrate Rafa Benitez and memories of the Istanbul game or whatever - [he's] one of the most successful managers at Liverpool - they're very welcome.
"If they want [to], do it. Be louder than you have ever been, that's absolutely okay. That's how I would say hello to a good old friend, so if you want to do this nobody has to ignore this wonderful moment only because I'm here now.
"Everything is okay from my side so do how you feel, and if it's very good, show it,” he added.
While Liverpool may have one eye on next Thursday’s Europa League semi-final against Villarreal, Benitez’s Newcastle are fighting for their Premier League survival.
The Magpies are currently 19th with just four matches remaining as they look to overhaul Sunderland and Norwich to escape the drop.
But, despite Klopp being welcoming to Benitez, his Liverpool side pose a real threat. They have lost just once in their previous 15 matches as they look to end the campaign in style.
Liverpool are positioned in seventh - but have a game in hand of all of the teams above them - and will still hope to finish above Manchester United.
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