Benitez and Ferguson had something of a fragmented relationship during their time as opposing rivals in the Premier League – with tensions coming to a head in 2008/09 when the two sides memorably fought for the Premier League title.
But according to Benitez’s long-time assistant manager, Pako Ayestaran, the two met before they clashed in England.
Ayestaran, who served as the Spaniard’s assistant for 11 years, three of which came at Anfield, says the pair watched United train in 2000 while they were unemployed.
“We were between jobs in 2000, so we went to visit Manchester United,” he told MailOnline.
“Ferguson let Rafa and I watch his first-team training sessions with Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, everyone in that great Treble team. At that time, it wasn’t as normal to let foreign coaches come over to observe. It was very kind.
“At Liverpool, I loved it from day one,” he added. “It’s the feeling of belonging to a club, to a community. I was in Liverpool Lime Street and people were coming up to me, saying thank you, thank you for coming. I’m thinking ‘f***!
“I was in Valencia for many years and I’m only stopped in the street to be criticised and then I come here and they are saying thank you before I have even started.”