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'Rafè' Benítez welcomed to Napoli

"I already feel like I owe something to this great family," said Rafael Benítez in his first press conference as SSC Napoli coach, saying the local passion reminded him of Spain.

Napoli unveil Rafael Benítez as their new coach
Napoli unveil Rafael Benítez as their new coach ©AFP

SSC Napoli have unveiled new coach Rafael Benítez during a packed press conference at their Castel Volturno training centre with the Spaniard already appreciating the passion surrounding his new team.

"I have received so many touching messages since my agreement with Napoli was announced," said the 53-year-old, who joined Napoli after leading Chelsea FC to UEFA Europa League glory in May. "I already feel I owe something to this great family, I will give my all for these colours. We have great challenges ahead and great objectives, if we stick together we can achieve them.

"I'm delighted to be here," he continued. "I talked with many players who played here and everybody was enthusiastic about the town, the club and the fans. We all know what we have done well and what we have done wrong in the past, but we are here to talk about the future. The club have done well in recent years but want to keep growing."

Benítez returns to Serie A after coaching FC Internazionale Milano during the first half of the 2010/11 campaign. "I'm Spanish, I think our mentality is quite similar to the people of Naples," he said. "Now my name is Rafè [in Neopolitan dialect], I will have to get used to it. It's important to know the feeling of the fans and the town. It's clear that people have great passion for football here, there are six million Napoli fans all waiting every day for the next match. It’s very important, you all win together."

A two-time Liga champion and 2004 UEFA Cup winner with Valencia CF, before steering Liverpool FC to UEFA Champions League success in 2005, Benítez will be back in Europe's most prestigious club competition after Napoli finished second in Serie A last term. "The Champions League will be a special motivation for us, we are trying to build a team to do well in all competitions."

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, sitting beside Benítez at the press conference, added: "He is the right man for us, he is a man with international experience and will help us continue growing. We are starting a new era with him, we are not interested in today's results, we are interested in the long term. The Napoli flag is not a national flag, it's an international one. With Benítez we hope to continue progressing at international level in the future."