It is a moment Newcastle supporters have dreaded for months, and a nightmare that has unfortunately come true.
The Spaniard has kept Newcastle afloat in an incredibly dark period for the club, and will be remembered as one of the club’s greatest managers.
But it seems his patience with club owner Mike Ashley has finally worn thin, and he leaves with his head held high and reputation intact.
Benitez guided a relegated Newcastle back to the Premier League in 2017 and against all odds has kept them there for two seasons.
The current Newcastle squad is undeniably one of it’s weakest in years, but Benitez has turned many of them into stars.
Players like Ayoze Perez and Isaac Hayden have become fan favourites and top Premier League players under his tutelage.
It’s fair to say that many of The Magpies owe their careers to Benitez, and a few of them have praised the manager following today’s news.
Newcastle stars praise Rafa Benitez
Thank you for everything over the last 3 years, you brought me to the club and had the faith in me to develop me as a player and person. It won’t be forgotten. All the best for the future! @rafabenitezweb #NUFC pic.twitter.com/BeLWqnn1FE
— Isaac Hayden (@IsaacHayden65) June 24, 2019
Gracias @rafabenitezweb por estos años, mucha suerte en tus nuevos proyectos! Eres un mister 🔝
Thank you Rafa for all these years at Newcastle and good luck in the future! You are a 🔝 manager pic.twitter.com/pzVQ6voRw7
— Ayoze Perez (@AyozePG) June 24, 2019
— Paul Dummett (@PaulDummett) June 24, 2019
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I must say that @rafabenitezrb deserves huge credit for what our team achieved last season, and I'm sure he'll have success in his next job. All the best, gaffer! /// @rafabenitezrb merece mucho crédito por el logro de la pasada temporada en Newcastle, seguro que tendrá éxito en su próximo trabajo. ¡Mucha suerte!
There’s likely to be more well wishes from different players as the day goes on, and who knows what they all must be thinking.
Many of the squad stressed that Benitez was important to their own future on Tyneside and Newcastle could face a mass exodus.
So many of these players dedicated themselves to Rafa’s tactics and vision, and may now look to jump a sinking ship.
It’s nice to see that the squad respected Benitez as much as the fans, but it also makes the news all the more disappointing.