Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has described Rafael Benitez as one of the most admired managers in Europe and lauded his pedigree.

Benitez, who guided Liverpool to a historic Champions League triumph in Istanbul in 2005, will return to Anfield as an opposition manager this afternoon with Newcastle United.

The Spaniard spent six seasons on Merseyside and won four trophies, including the Champions League and FA Cup.

Despite struggling towards the end of his tenure at Anfield, Benitez is still remembered as a prominent figure due to his initial and memorable success with the club.

Klopp, who has the utmost respect for Liverpool’s former manager, described Benitez as one of the most admired managers in Europe and lauded his pedigree by referring to it as outstanding.

The Liverpool manager wrote in the club's matchday programme: "When his name is mentioned at Melwood or Anfield or to any Liverpool supporter you see their face instantly fill with joy and love.

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"They remember the amazing times and moments LFC enjoyed under his leadership and I think that is so cool.

"Of course today friendship ceases on both sides for the 90-plus minutes our teams face each other.

"He remains, rightly, one of the most admired managers and coaches in Europe and his pedigree is simply outstanding", Klopp added.

Benitez is currently locked in a struggle to keep Newcastle clear of the drop zone in the Premier League.