Rafael Benitez appointed as new coach of Italian team Napoli
Benitez takes over from previous coach Walter Mazzarri
Spain's Benitez was manager of Chelsea for the final six months of last season
Benitez led Chelsea to Europa League triumph a fortnight ago
Two weeks after leading Chelsea to glory in the Europa League, Rafael Benitez has been unveiled as the new coach of Italian team Napoli.
Benitez guided Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Benfica in Amsterdam earlier this month having been appointed as the team’s interim manager following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in November.
The former Liverpool and Valencia boss moves to Naples on a two-year deal as a replacement for Walter Mazzarri, who has taken over at Inter Milan following the sacking of Andrea Stramaccioni.
Mazzarri’s Napoli finished the 2012-13 campaign second in Italy’s top division, securing the team a place in next season’s European Champions League. It was the club’s best finish in the league since winning Serie A in 1990.
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“Now that the agreement is confirmed, I can say I am very happy and very satisfied for having committed to a great club with an illustrious heritage like Napoli,” the 53-year-old Benitez told his official website.
“I understand the history of the city and how the club forms a fundamental part of the culture and traditions of Naples.
“I must confess that I am extremely excited because I can share my passion for football with the fans of Napoli; it is proven that they are very, very special.”
Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis tweeted a picture of himself shaking Benitez’s hand, and wrote: “Rafa Benítez is the new coach of Napoli. A great man with international experience. A leader.”
Benitez endured a difficult time at Stamford Bridge.
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Chelsea fans refused to accept him as a result of a rivalry he had had with the club while manager of Liverpool between 2004 and 2010 despite the club qualifying for the Champions League and winning the Europa League.
The Spanish coach’s first job at Napoli will be attempting to keep hold of star striker Edinson Cavani who is reportedly a target for Benitez’s former employers Chelsea and Manchester City.
Chelsea’s Europa League triumph was the latest in a long list of major honors won by Benitez.
The Madrid native won the same tournament – then known as the UEFA Cup – with Valencia in 2004, as well as two Spanish league titles.
He then moved to Liverpool where he won the FA Cup in 2006, but the crowning moment of his career to date arrived a year earlier when he led the Anfield club to Champions League glory.
Losing 3-0 to AC Milan at half time in the 2005 final, Liverpool scored three second-half goals before going on to seal a dramatic penalty shootout victory in Istanbul. Liverpool also reached the 2007 Champions League final.
Benitez parted company with Liverpool in June 2010 before taking over at Inter just one week later.
His spell at Inter Milan was mixed. Benitez won the FIFA World Club Cup with Inter before being sacked in December 2010.
Fitness coach Francisco de Miguel Moreno and goalkeeping coach Vicente Javier Valero Berchili, who were both part of Benitez’s backroom team at Liverpool, Inter Milan and Chelsea will join the Spaniard at Napoli.