Dudek: "A voice in my head was telling me to punch Benítez"
In his new book 'A big Pole in our goal', Dudek reveals how the coach upset him when he signed Pepe Reina from Villarreal.
Jerzy Dudek's new biography, 'A big Pole in our goal' hits the bookstores on Friday but several extracts have already been published by sections of the British media. The Mirror has reproduced a chapter from the goalkeeper's book in which he describes his relationship with Rafa Benítez which tunred sour when the coach signed Pepe Reina from Villarreal. "I loved being at Liverpool, but Benitez clearly didn’t want me. I’d been the hero in Istanbul so could I now just be a fire-fighter who waits for the moment when a fire needs fighting. Then rumours started that I was earning between £60,000-70,000 per week and Benitez wanted me off the wage bill".
The Polish keeper goes on to relate that he confronted Benítez in an attempt to avoid any misunderstandings: "I got more and more frustrated with him until transfer deadline day when I finally boiled over. The lads could see I was fuming, so all hung around to see what would happen; I was furious with him, absolutely fuming, and in my head I could hear a devilish voice saying ‘Punch him in the face – punch him in the face and he’ll let you go to Germany’.... As I walked off towards the dressing room, Stevie [Gerrard] walked alongside me: “You wanted to punch him, didn’t you, lad? You really wanted to f***ing punch him...'", he said.
Dudek recalls how difficult it was for him to accept a secondary role within the side almost immediately after helping Liverpool to win the Champions League in 2004-05. But when Reina was brought in five days after the inscription period had opened in July 2005, Dudek took it as a sign that it was time to move on. . He explains how Benítez attempted to sabotage the keeper's summer move to Cologne. "He said it would be a good move for me, adding: “We’ll definitely help you, we’ll do whatever it takes to make a deal. I was in touch with Cologne regularly and they told me Benitez wouldn’t speak to them".
However, while that whole episode clearly rankled, Dudek only has positive things to say about Benítez's labours as a manager: "He has a great knowledge of football. He’s not a fool who comes out with theories that are all talk. His problem is that he’s not a great ‘people person’ so always encounters problems when managing a group because he is very cold and hard-faced in how he makes decisions. He kept a distance between himself and his players – like there was an invisible wall there – but it didn’t stop him from being a genius of a coach. I worked under José Mourinho at Real Madrid and while no such thing as an ideal coach exists you’d be close to finding it if you combined his and Rafa’s qualities. Mourinho had more respect in the dressing room because he was a more personable character who spoke to his players as people".