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Dirk Kuyt disputes Jermaine Pennant claim about Rafa Benitez and says Steven Gerrard was ‘true captain’ at Liverpool

Dirk Kuyt has described how important Rafa Benitez was for him at Liverpool amid Jermaine Pennant’s recent claims about the Spaniard.

The former Reds attacker also lauded Steven Gerrard as a ‘true captain’ and revealed the role he played in the dressing room.

Pennant recently said that Benitez was the ‘worst man manager’ of his careerGetty

Kuyt signed for Liverpool in 2006 with Pennant also joining in the same summer, although the latter recently questioned their boss’ management style.

He said that Benitez was the ‘worst man manager’ he played under and that it was actually Gerrard who delivered the team talks.

Amid such claims, Kuyt told talkSPORT that he had a very different experience with the manager but backed up the claims about Gerrard’s presence in the dressing room.

He said: “I think every player has different opinions but everyone knows how important Stevie was in the dressing room. Personally for me, he was a vital person once I arrived at Liverpool and definitely was one of the leaders of the team so, of course, in the dressing he was the boss.

“One thing that was common about him, Stevie wasn’t talking too much but when he was talking, he was saying the right things. My opinion about Rafa is completely different than Jermaine but there’s also something to do I think with Jermaine’s experience, that he wasn’t playing as much as he wanted to.

“For me, Rafa was a very important person and I can explain something about that in my first season. After my first season I was doing really well but my father passed away straight after the last Champions League final and the person who was there for me was Rafa.

“I probably played my worst part at Liverpool, Rafa said to me, ‘I will take you out for a while, you will be not in the team, you will be not even in the squad but once you’re ready, I’ll put you back on the pitch.’

“He was a big help for me at that time so it’s sometimes surprising also in football that players can have completely different experiences about managers. But what we agree, me and Jermaine, we had a great time, we were roomies most of the time, also we were roomies the day before the Champions League final.

Kuyt had a different experience with Benitez though and lauded his helpAFP

He also had huge praise for Gerrard and his influence on the RedsGetty

“We both have a great respect for Steven Gerrard because he was, not only for me, the best player I ever played with, but also such a great captain who was not talking too much, but every word he said in the dressing room was right.”

Speaking further on legend Gerrard, Kuyt revealed that the former Liverpool captain had the respect of all his teammates.

“You both know Craig Bellamy and for me, when someone has real respect is when people like Bellas don’t say anything in the dressing room.

“There was once when Bellamy was really disappointed in the dressing room, he was shouting about everything, he was shouting at me.

Gerrard will go down as one of the finest captains in Liverpool historyAFP

“I think he was shouting even at the gaffer because he was really disappointed, and Steve started to speak with him and he straightaway respected and stopped speaking.

“That says everything about leaders in the dressing room because Steven had the respect of everyone, every single player. There was nobody who didn’t respect him and that makes you, for me, a true captain.”