Former Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez has thanked the club for the opportunity to ply his trade at the Santiago Bernabeu, while wishing successor Zinedine Zidane good luck.
Benitez was dismissed on Monday after seven tumultuous months at the Santiagio Bernabeu and was replaced by club legend and Castilla coach Zidane.
The Spaniard ultimately paid the price for an underwhelming campaign which included a 4-0 Clasico hammering at the hands of Barcelona, while constant reports of dressing-room unrest did little to aid his cause.
But, in a statement on his official website, Benitez wrote: “Now, at the end of my time as first team coach of Real Madrid, I would like to use this article to say goodbye to everyone at every level of the club.
“I want everyone at the club from the board of directors, executives, workers and all of the fans, know that it has been an honour and privilege to be in charge at this club, where I grew up as a person, player and coach from the lowest categories through to the first team.
“As a Madridista from Madrid, steeped in the traditions and values of this institution, which I learned in the old sports city of Castellana, it has been an honour to work for these colours.
“I would especially like to thank everyone at the new sports city and the Santiago Bernabeu who since my first steps through the door have supported me and made my work easier. Thanks to all for helping.
“With all that I have said still in mind, I would like to wish good luck to Zinedine Zidane, my successor, and his staff. To all the players, coaches and staff in both Valdebebas and Bernabeu, I wish all the best and also good luck.
“With all my respect and thanks… HALA MADRID and NOTHING ELSE.”
Benitez was up against it from the moment of his appointment, which was not well received by a notoriously demanding fan base.
He won 11 of his 18 league matches and secured progress from the Champions League group stages, but supporters were not impressed by his pragmatic approach.
Zidane took training for the first time on Tuesday and later held his first news conference as Madrid boss in which he promised attacking football, but paid tribute to the “fantastic” job Benitez had done.
The Frenchman’s first match is Saturday’s visit of Deportivo La Coruna.