Rafa Benitez may be distant - but he made Steven Gerrard world class

Steven Gerrard takes a question during a pregame press conference

Rafa Benitez may have been "emotionless" but he helped turn Steven Gerrard into a world-class star at Liverpool.

The former Reds captain is currently having his new book serialised by the Daily Mail, and the LA Galaxy midfielder once again re-iterated how his relationship with ex-boss Benitez was a strictly professional one in his latest release.

Benitez's pragmatic approach to management is renowned throughout football, and despite winning the Champions League under the Spaniard, Gerrard never warmed to the coach in the same way he did under Gerard Houllier previously at Anfield - someone who he regarded as a father figure.

Speaking in his new book, Gerrard says: "I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers, except for Rafa.

"It's a shame because we shared the biggest night of our careers - the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul - yet there is no bond between us.

"An emotionless and distant relationship with the likes of Rafa Benitez and Fabio Capello can sometimes produce more success."

Benitez may not have been bosom buddies with his squad, but there can be no doubting that the Real Madrid boss was key to adapting Gerrard's game to take him into the world-class bracket.

Twelve months after skippering the club to arguably the greatest night in their illustrious history with the 2005 Champions League win, Gerrard stood as the PFA Player of the Year with 23 goals from a predominantly wide right position - a switch instigated by the studious Benitez.

Benitez is often regarded as a coach who keeps the reins tightly on his players, not affording them a great deal of creative freedom on the pitch, but he allowed a rampaging Gerrard to operate further up the pitch to devastating effect.

In the 2008-2009 campaign, Gerrard, who was ably assisted by the midfield fulcrum of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso, dovetailed with Fernando Torres and the ex-England captain finished with a personal best of 24 goals as the Reds ran Manchester United close for the Premier League title.

It was the tactical tweak by Benitez to move Gerrard further forward that saw the Liverpool superstar become one of the most feared attacking midfielders in Europe.

Gerrard was allowed to shake off the shackles of worrying about defensive duties in the engine room, and while Benitez may not be the warmest of managers in the game, the Spaniard deserves great credit in helping his player become known as one of the finest players of his generation.

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