BEIJING – Spanish coach Rafael Benitez was named on Tuesday the new coach of Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang, following his departure from Newcastle.
Benitez’s appointment comes just a day after Dalian Yifang announced the resignation of South Korean coach Choi Kang-hee, citing personal reasons.
“After a long path... We start a new challenge! I am happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang,” the 59-year-old Spaniard wrote on Twitter.
Benitez will train international stars such as Belgium midfielder Yannick Carrasco and Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamsik during his stint at the Chinese club.
Dalian Yifang is currently placed 10th in the league standings with 17 points, 22 behind leader Beijing Guoan.
Benitez bid farewell on Monday to Newcastle fans in a letter, in which he explained the reasons behind his exit from the Premier League side.
“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. “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,” he added.
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.
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.