LONDON – Spanish coach Rafael Benitez bid farewell on Monday to Newcastle fans in a letter after he announced he would part ways with the Premier League side last week.
Benitez’ contract expired on June 30 after two and half seasons at the helm of the club.
“I wanted to stay, but I did not just want to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project,” Benitez said in the letter posted to his Twitter account.
“It became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the club did not share the same vision,
“I am very sad about that, but I do not regret for one moment my decision to come to Tyneside and I am very proud about what we achieved together.”
Benitez joined Newcastle after a seven-month stint at Real Madrid in 2016.
He was landed with a sinking ship in March 2016 as the team from northeast England struggled to leave 19th place, the second to last place in the table.
The team went down to the Championship but under the continued management of Benitez came straight back up to the top-flight, where it finished 10th that season.
The team finished 13th in its most recent campaign.
Benitez expressed his gratitude to the fans for their support and passion, recalling the Premier League 5-1 home win over Tottenham on May 15, 2016.
The 59-year-old said that this victory “was so emotional that since that day I have always felt as though I belonged at Newcastle.”
“Thank you to everyone at the club who has helped the team and of course to the fine players who grew and fought with us and to the staff (one of the best I have ever shared time with),” he continued.
During his period in charge, Newcastle played 146 matches, with a ratio of 62 wins to 31 draws and 53 defeats, scoring 209 goals and conceding 171.
Newcastle was the 12th club Benitez has led since his coaching career got underway in 1993 when he coached Real Madrid B.
Benitez, however, is widely known for the 2005 UEFA Champions League final, when he steered Liverpool to win the title at the expense of AC Milan.
In his first season at the helm of Liverpool, Benitez emerged victorious in one of the most exciting Champions League finals in the recent memory when his team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to draw level at 3-3 and then won on a penalty shootout.
Beside this Champions League trophy, Benitez’s silverware includes an English FA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and English Super Cup with Liverpool, a Europa League title with Chelsea, a FIFA Club World Cup and an Italian Super Cup with FC Internazionale and two La Liga titles with Valencia among others.