Former Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek has revealed in his new book, as quoted by the Mirror, that he once almost punched Rafael Benitez in the face after his then-manager refused to sanction a move away upon the arrival of Pepe Reina in 2005.
Dudek played 185 times in six seasons with the Reds, and the greatest moment of his club career came in the final match of what would turn out to be his last campaign as the club’s number one in 2004-05.
The Polish stopper was the hero as Liverpool won the Champions League final on penalties against AC Milan in Istanbul after the side had come back from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3.
However, in his new book, the 43-year-old recalls that when he returned to Melwood after holiday following that success, he found that Benitez, whom he describes as “cold and hard-faced”, had signed Pepe Reina from Villarreal for £6 million.
Dudek asked his manager to allow him to leave if he was no longer to be first choice, and claims Benitez promised him he would sanction a move if a serious offer for good money came in.
However, according to the Pole, he later reneged on that promise, something which made Dudek so frustrated that he “genuinely considered” punching the current Newcastle United boss in the face.
Dudek told the Mirror: “The main interest was from Cologne, so I told Benitez I wanted to go there. He said it would be a good move for me, adding: ‘We’ll definitely help you, we’ll do whatever it takes to make a deal’. The negotiations started. I was in touch with Cologne regularly and they told me Benitez wouldn’t speak to them.
“I got more and more frustrated with him until transfer deadline day when I finally boiled over. As soon as training had finished, I stormed over to him and ripped my gloves off in an aggressive manner. I was so angry that the lads said later the aggression was pouring out of me. I raised my voice.
“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?”
Dudek’s restraint in holding back his anger was probably wise, although he did not get his move away from Anfield until 2007, when he joined Real Madrid at the age of 34.