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22nd Apr 2016

Jerzy Dudek says he doesn’t know how he stopped himself punching Rafa Benitez in the face

"To be completely honest, I genuinely considered punching Rafa in the face"

Kevin Beirne

In the pantheon of Liverpool greats, Jerzy Dudek definitely falls more into the category of cult hero than outright legend.

The Polish goalkeeper was between the sticks on that night in Istanbul, making a skilful double save to keep the Reds in the game in extra time (after conceding three goals in the first half of the game).

Despite saving penalties from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the final’s shootout, then-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez deemed the Pole surplus to requirements and brought in fellow Spaniard Pepe Reina from Villareal.

Although Dudek stuck around Anfield for a further two seasons, he has revealed that his time on Merseyside after winning the Champions League was anything but amicable.

via Getty

In a recently serialised segment of his brilliantly-titled autobiography – A Pole in Our Goal – in the Liverpool Echo, Dudek admits he wanted to punch Benitez in the face after the future Newcastle manager refused to allow him join FC Koln on loan, before deciding punching a Champions League-winning manager might be a bad look.

‘He said, “I will be honest with you, I am not interested in loaning you. If they come back today to buy you, they need to double their offer as this is the last day of the transfer window.” 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’.

‘To be completely honest, I genuinely considered punching Rafa in the face. Then the consequences of doing so flashed through my mind. Would he let me go? Or would it just lead to a massive media scandal? Surely I couldn’t stay if I gave him a smack?

‘I don’t know how, but I managed to stop myself. Punching a Liverpool manager who had won the European Cup only a few months earlier wouldn’t have looked too good on the CV I guess, but I was still angry.’