The news of Rafa Benitez’s departure from Newcastle has upset Toon fans and former players alike, but some have a foot in both camps.

Peter Ramage is one of those – a former player, and, as a local lad, a lifelong fan.

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Having made 51 appearances for the club he watched growing up, the decision affected Ramage greatly, who said he was “extremely disappointed” at the departure of a “great coach” who “brought the love into the football club”.

Ramage, currently in Arizona where he is coaching at USL side Phoenix Rising, spoke to Geordie Boot Boys following Newcastle’s announcement of Rafa’s impending departure on Monday.

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The former centre-back said: “I’m not shocked that it has eventually played out this way but extremely disappointed it has come to this.

“I think what Rafa did for, not only the club, but the city as a whole is he brought the love into the football club. He made us dream and hope. He worked a minor miracle with the tools at his disposal, and showed that he’s isn’t just a good manager but a great coach.

“He brought the best out of players and gave us hope that the team could reach heights we thought under the regime, they couldn’t reach.

Ramage holds Benitez in the same esteem as Sir Bobby Robson

Although Ramage did not make his senior Newcastle debut until the late Sir Bobby Robson had left the club, he was still around the fringes of the squad while he was there.

He was obviously influenced a lot by the Newcastle legend, and that he holds Benitez in the same regard as Sir Bobby, says everything about the respect that the Spaniard garners.

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“For him [Benitez], he’s leaving in the highest regard since Bobby Robson – a manger that understood not only the football club but the city and its people,” he said.

Ramage, like all Newcastle fans, knows the difficult task ahead in appointing a new man to the job, and getting the right man in – someone who can try to unite the fan-base behind his cause – is not going to be easy.

He added: “I just hope and pray there’s a plan in place going forward that can keep the faith of the people who matter the most, the fans. But as in football generally, nothing ever surprises me anymore.”

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