Rafa Benitez says he would like to go down in history at Newcastle United – just like Alan Shearer.
A statue of Shearer, the club’s all-time record goalscorer, was unveiled outside St James’s Park yesterday.
Shearer, hailed by Benitez as the “perfect No 9”, attended the ceremony along with former manager Kevin Keegan, the man who signed him in 1996.
Benitez’s first objective as Newcastle manager is to win promotion back to the Premier League.
Beyond that, the hugely-experienced manager wants to bring trophies to St James’s Park.
And the Champions League winner – who has been touched by the warmth of the affection felt towards him on Tyneside – is determined not to let the club’s fans down.
Asked how he wanted to be viewed in the future, Benitez said: “You want to do well and remembered as an important figure in the history of the club.
“In this case, it is very simple – to get promoted. If we are promoted, everybody will say ‘fantastic’. And after, to achieve something more.
“It doesn’t matter the team that you coach, you want to do these things. When you are competitive and have a winning mentality, you want to win.
“But, because I have been in so many clubs now, when you have the feeling, or something back from the fans, you want to do even more.
“That is the situation I had in Liverpool and I have it here.
“I would like to do really well because it is my nature, but also because the fans are so good. I want to give them something back.”
Benitez is comfortable with the pressure that comes with managing Newcastle, having had a winning mentality instilled in him from a young age at Real Madrid’s academy.
“When I was 13 years old I started playing for the Real Madrid academy,” said Benitez, one of Europe’s most respected coaches.
“So to finish second was nothing. You had to finish first, first, first every year.
“After I was a coach for 10 years. It was 20 years growing with this mentality that you have to win first.”
Meanwhile, the Shearer statue, designed by Northumberland artist Tom Maley, was funded by former club chairman Freddy Shepherd.
“Alan was an incredible player, the perfect No 9, and he had a fantastic career representing this great club,” said Benitez. “He is also a great ambassador for Newcastle with the charity work he does to support the people of the city.
“The statue of him at St James’s Park is a perfect tribute to a true club legend and I send Alan my very best wishes for a memorable day.”