• Europa League

Kuyt hopes for Benitez reunion

ESPN staff
May 2, 2013
Dirk Kuyt revealed Rafael Benitez was one of the best managers he worked with during his time at Liverpool © Getty Images

Dirk Kuyt says it would be "very special" to face his former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez in the Europa League final.

Kuyt, 32, was signed by Benitez in 2006 from Feyenoord when the Spaniard was in charge at Anfield, and the Dutch striker went on to make 176 Premier League starts for the club.

The pair could face one another in the Europa League final on May 15 with Kuyt's Fenerbahce leading their semi-final against Benfica after a 1-0 first leg win and Benitez's Chelsea having beaten FC Basel 2-1 in Switzerland.

Kuyt said in the Daily Mirror: "It would be very special to face Rafa in the final. He signed me for Liverpool and has been a very big influence on my career. I will always be grateful to him for giving me the chance at Anfield.

"He means a lot to me. He is one of the best managers I have ever worked with and clearly one of the best in Europe. The things he wrote about me when he heard I was leaving Liverpool were very special and important to me.

"I will never forget that. I owe him a great deal but I would still love to beat him if we both make it to the final.

"I know from my experience with Liverpool that anything is possible. We've got a huge game in Benfica and it's hard to look beyond that. But, like I say, if it did turn out that way it would be special."

Kuyt plies his trade in Turkey along with Dutch compatriot Wesley Sneijder, who was signed by Galatasaray from Inter Milan in January, and the forward has revealed he tried to persuade the playmaker to join Liverpool.

He added: "I got in touch with him as soon as I heard about the link. I tried to convince him that Liverpool would be a great step for him. I told him about the fans, the atmosphere in the ground and how special it is being part of such a unique club.

"I've no doubt he would have loved it and the fans there always appreciate a top player. But as far as I know, it wasn't because he didn't want to go there. Liverpool were never that close to actually signing him.

"He knows it is a big club with a massive history and I think he would have been a hit in the Premier League. Maybe I didn't do a good enough job convincing him because he has ended up playing in Turkey with me!

"He's at the top of the league with Galatasaray now, but it's a shame Liverpool didn't bring him in as I think he would have been perfect for them."

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