Rafa Benitez is the latest man to take on football’s impossible job.
Eight in 10 years, and 12 since the turn of the century, have come and gone at Real Madrid, with Benitez the next in line to be appointed coach at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid-born Benitez succeeds Carlo Ancelotti, sacked last week despite winning four trophies during a two-year spell, including the club’s long-awaited 10th European Cup.
Big names such as Jose Mourinho and Fabio Capello have also been shown the exit door after bringing success to the Spanish capital.
“Rafa Benitez is now the new Real Madrid manager,” read an official Madrid statement. “The Madrid-born coach signed the contract that will keep at the club for three seasons.”
Benitez, who departs Napoli after two seasons at the helm, returns to the club where his coaching career began.
The 55-year-old first represented Madrid as a player, before eventually going on to take charge of both the club’s youth side and its B team.
“It is an emotional day because I’ve returned home,” a tearful Benitez said at his official unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I hope things go well, that we are able to win titles and also that the team play well. I would like to thank the club for the faith they have shown in my work.”
Benitez was welcomed to the club by Real president Florentino Perez, who has now worked with 10 different coaches during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“Here in Real Madrid the demands are great and nothing is ever enough,” Perez said at the official unveiling.
“This club works towards perfecting its virtues and valiantly accepting any challenge it is faced with. Today a new era begins and the arrival of our new coach will strengthen us further.
“Today we are here with a man who has lived and breathed football, professionalism and the Real Madrid spirit ever since he was a boy. He has dreamed about this moment for a long time and now it is a reality.”
It was at Valencia where Benitez made his name, guiding the club to two Spanish La Liga titles, as well as the UEFA Cup.
His finest hour came at Liverpool, where he lifted the Champions League in 2005, with a UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup also following.
He also tasted further European success during a spell at Chelsea – this time winning the Europa League in 2013 – having previously been sacked just six months into his time at Inter Milan in 2010.
While Benitez claimed the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italia at Napoli, his spell at the club came to a disappointing end as he was unable to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
The Spaniard said goodbye to the Naples side on Tuesday via a post on his official website.
“As you all know because of special circumstances I did not have the chance to say goodbye to Naples, the Neapolitans and the Napoli fans as I would have really liked,” he wrote.
“So now as one chapter ends and another starts I want you to know my feelings. I have spent two unforgettable years in Naples enjoying a unique, beautiful city with a superb location. I enjoyed the people and the lifestyle of Neapolitans.
“Now as I say goodbye I would like to thank each and every one of you for the special times I spent there. There have been many special moments and each and every one is a sign of the affection that I have for the club and its fans.
“I’ll keep the memories of two wonderful years and many experiences all my life. So many things, so many moments, heartfelt thanks to all.”