Javier Mascherano: Rafa Benitez saved my career

Javier Mascherano: Rafa Benitez saved my career


Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez has been praised by Barcelona man Javier Mascherano, with the Argentinian saying his career was saved by Benitez.

The pair were on opposite sides last month when the fierce rivals clashed at the Santiago Bernabeu and Mascherano was the happier of the two then after Los Cules went home having thrashed Real 4-0.

Since then, Benitez has been under the spotlight although Tuesday’s 8-0 win over Malmo eased the pressure somewhat on him.

But speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Mascherano, a midfielder-turnded-defender, said it was a different story almost 10 years ago when he was signed by Benitez for Liverpool after struggling at West Ham.

He had made the switch to the Premier League from Corinthians but did not settle in London. Benitez saw the potential though and signed him for the Anfield side which already had Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Mohamed Sissoko in midfield.

Mascherano said: “He’s a great man, and a diligent and excellent coach. I’ll always be grateful to him for having rescued me from the big black hole I was stuck in. At West Ham, I was hardly given any playing time.

“It was the first time I’d played in Europe and then Rafa came to Liverpool and took me there. People didn’t understand it, with them already having players like Xabi Alonso, Mohamed Sissoko and Steven Gerrard in midfield. But Benitez said to me that none of those three had the talent that I did.”