Rafa Benitez came within hours of being West Ham manager before an 11th Real Madrid call and is one of David Sullivan’s big regrets.
Back in 2015 West Ham were looking for a new manager to see in the final season at their beloved Boleyn Ground after the departure of Sam Allardyce.
The man David Sullivan wanted was one Rafa Benitez.
And the former Liverpool boss liked the idea of being West Ham’s manager too.
When a manager is under pressure at a club – as David Moyes certainly is right now at West Ham – it is to be expected that all the out of work bosses have their names thrown into the ring.
West Ham have been linked with a plethora of replacements for Moyes this week including ex Newcastle and Everton boss Benitez (The Mirror).
Speculation surrounding the Spaniard has intensified in the last 24 hours.
And Benitez has even turned down a job in Serie A this week, which could prove rather ominous for Moyes.
But there may well be more to the Benitez links than many others for very good reason.
Rafa Benitez came within hours of being West Ham boss before 11th Real Madrid call and is one of David Sullivan’s regrets
Because Benitez came within hours of being West Ham boss before an 11th Real Madrid call and is one of David Sullivan’s big regrets.
Speaking to The Guardian back in 2015, West Ham majority stakeholder Sullivan revealed Benitez had agreed to become the new Hammers manager and was just two hours from signing the contract before the Spaniard’s boyhood club Real Madrid picked up the phone.
West Ham went with Slaven Bilic instead and enjoyed an unforgettable farewell season at Upton Park before things started to turn sour.
“We were two hours from getting Benítez and then Real came in. We had agreed a contract and everything,” Sullivan told The Guardian.
“He is a top manager whatever anybody says and I think he’d have done a wonderful job for us.
“We tried (Jürgen) Klopp as well but he wouldn’t come because he said he wanted a break. But I’m glad with the manager we have got.”
Benitez was again linked with West Ham when David Moyes was let go after his first spell – much to the anger of Newcastle fans at the time (Football.London).
Could it be a case of third time’s a charm for West Ham and Benitez?
Sullivan has always believed he would do a great job for West Ham – perhaps we won’t have to wait long to find out if he’s right.