Newcastle United is more than a club to Rafa Benitez.
Benitez attended the Newcastle United Foundation’s 10 Year Anniversary Dinner this week.
The event recognises the unsung heroes supported by the Foundation and raises money for initiatives in the North East.
Benitez and his coaching staff attended the dinner with Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez, Federico Fernandez, Martin Dubravka and Sean Longstaff.
“I think the job that the Foundation’s doing is great,” said Benitez, who presented the disability footballer award to Sam McVie.
“They’ve been going for the last 10 years, and they have done a massive job with helping people in the city.
“There’s a lot of support from the club, and you can see a lot of positive things when you talk about this kind of event.
“I think it’s really good for the city, and really good for the club. It’s a good way that you can see us working together.
“I think this is something the club does well. There are so many people that need help, and when you have a massive club like this one, supporting and helping people, then in the end that has to be positive.”
Benitez has taken a keen interest in the club’s work in the community.
It is not just the 11 players, it’s the whole of the squad. But then after that, the relationship with the city and the community is just as important.Rafa Benitez
“I always have the feeling that the squad, not just the team, is really important,” said United’s manager.
“It is not just the 11 players, it’s the whole of the squad. But then after that, the relationship with the city and the community is just as important.
“The relationship with the fans is crucial. I’m not a manager that will be jumping around the touchline if we score a goal, but I like to be involved in everything and I like to have this feeling from the fans.
“When you go on the streets, someone is always coming up to tell you this or that, and I like that.
“OK, maybe you need some time to yourself to relax at some stage, but I think it is important to have a relationship between the club and the fans.
“These type of things (the Foundation awards) help that a lot. We had a foundation in Liverpool, and were able to help people a lot.
“We do that here at Newcastle too, and it’s important that the club does that.
“The job that the Foundation is doing now is amazing – in the end, so many people will benefit from that, and that’s really important.”
Meanwhile, the Alder Sweeney Award was given to the Newcastle Fans Foodbank.
The award, which is in memory of United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who tragically lost their lives on flight MH17 four years ago, was presented to volunteer Steve Hastie by Perez.