José Villalonga was the man who got the country’s footballing hopes up in the first place as he led La Roja to their first-ever international honour, winning the European Nations’ Cup on home ground after defeating Hungary and the Soviet Union in 1964
Prior to that summer, Villalonga had been manager of both major Madrid clubs – Real and Atlético, winning two leagues and two European Cups before a fall-out with his assistant coach and being questioned over his decision of using Alfredo Di Stéfano. After being dismissal, he moved on to second place in La Liga where he won two Spanish Cups and one European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Talent of Rafael Benítez differ greatly based on who is asked. Napoli fans would feedback that his football was chaotic and his sturnborn desire to stick with a 4-2-3-1 was too rigid. Meanwhile, Real Madrid fans would comment that his style was effective yet unexciting. Liverpool fans would say the glorious night in Istanbul where Benítez’s Reds won a 3-0 deficit to beat AC Milan on penalties in the Champions League final. Valencia fans would confess love for the man.
It is hard to forget that the Spaniard is currently managing Newcastle United, used to manage Valencia to two league titles and a UEFA Cup in three years and Héctor Cúper – the man had managed the club to achieve two Champions League finals by establishing strong defence.
And Benítez has had success many other places too such as winning the Champions League title with Liverpool, he delivered an FA Cup to Anfield, got a Europa League with Chelsea, achieved two promotions in Spain with Extremadura and Tenerife and made sure Newcastle returned to the Premier League at the first attempt after going through relegation.
Benítez lacks the appeal compared to some of his contemporaries, but his trophy haul is remarkable and his three years with Valencia are simply impressive.