"Thats from my phone too i think. Some lad in the bar wanted it as he is in the background, so bluetoothed it to him. Well in to Ali for taking the pics though, as she was stood next to Rafa. We wont mention the fact it took her a good 15 mins before she realised who was stood RIGHT NEXT to her." - Gareth on RAWK
Benitez left around 100 Reds fans stunned in March 2005 when he walked into Jamesons bar in Cologne city centre. The Liverpool team and fans were in Germany for the crunch Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.
Caption on RAWK:
Lads give us five minutes to get the interviews out of the way and I'll see you in Jameson's. Mines a fine red please. And Jon, keep your mits off of it.
Benitez is believed to have been looking for somewhere to watch the Chelsea-Barcelona match after he found it wasn't being screened at the club hotel. He ventured out with first team coach Alex Miller and after walking around the city centre for a few minutes stumbled upon Jamesons, which was packed out with Liverpool fans.
Radio City sports presenter Paul Salt was in the bar at the time. He said: "It was absolutely unbelievable. The bar was rammed with Liverpool fans and they had been singing Rafa's name all day. All of a sudden the doors opened and in walked Benitez with Alex Miller and everyone's jaws just dropped. When he got to the bar he was mobbed; everyone was shaking his hand and wanting to have a chat with him. Rafa recognised me because I've interviewed him a few times for City and I asked him what he was doing there. He told me he had just been looking for somewhere quiet to watch the Chelsea game and this was the only place he could find. I think word must have got around that the Liverpool manager was in Jamesons because more and more fans started turning up. In the end he stayed for about half an hour and had his picture taken with everyone. He was an absolute gentleman."
Fans in YNWA.TV's forum were impressed by Rafa:
"It was like Jesus walking into a room!" claimed Alan Baynes, a school inspector from Kirkby who was inside the pub. "The place went absolutely mental. Rafa walked in a with a couple of fellas and as soon as he set foot in the place, Hernan Crespo headed the ball past Tim Howard and Manchester United were effectively out of the Champions League, What a moment! United as good as out and Rafa's in the same pub! It was Shankly-esque!"
As Benitez stood there, looking at what must have been 500 Liverpool fans going mad, a chant from the back started up.
It went something like this: 'The famous Rafa Benitez went the pub to see the lads and this is what he said, Who the **** are Man United? Who the **** are Man United? Who the **** are Man United when the Reds go marching on!'
The Liverpool manager looked on in awe as he saw for the first time just how passionate his team's supporters actually are.
"He looked absolutely amazed at what he was seeing," claimed Chris Brannan, a supporter from Tuebrook who had followed the Reds since they were in the second division. "He wasn't drinking like the rest of us but then he didn't need to. Imagine for a minute you're Rafael Benitez. You're a Spanish manager who doesn't know exactly what the Liverpool fans are about and there you are, walking into a pub in Germany on the back of two big defeats and suddenly you've got 500 proper lads singing your name. It was like something from Palestine. He means that much to us! Everyone, and I mean everyone, goy out a mobile phone and tried to take his picture as he stood there with us the normal Liverpool fans watching the Chelsea and United games on the TV.
"People talk all this rubbish about Everton being the People's Club but we've always know that was just words said to appease the Everton fans. Could you imagine Moyes, or any other manager in the world for that matter, going to the pub with the fans? No chance.
"Rafa did it on Wednesday night and as far back as I can remember, and I'm an old man, I've never heard of any manager doing something like that. Everton, The People's Club? Don't make me laugh. We are the real People's Club. Always have been, always will be."