Newcastle United centre-back Lewis Cass, who is currently on loan at Hartlepool United for the 2020/21 campaign, has been discussing ex-Toon boss Rafael Benitez and praising the Spaniard for showing faith in him in what was Benitez’s final game as Newcastle manager.
Benitez’s over three-year spell at Newcastle United came to an end in the summer of 2019, with the 2005 UEFA Champions League winner overseeing his last game in the dugout of the North East club on 12th May 2019, as he guided the Toon to a 4-0 win over Fulham.
Showing faith in the Newcastle United academy product
Cass, who was just 19 years old at the time, made his first appearance in a Newcastle matchday squad for that game, remaining on the bench for the contest.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, the ‘promising’ 20-year-old defender has opened up about that day, praising Benitez for showing “faith and trust” in him, saying: “It was just really knowing he trusted me and I could be going to train there that gave me a confidence boost to push on really. When I went up there, it didn’t feel too daunting. I felt I can be a part of this if I keep pushing myself. The faith Rafa had to put a young player on the bench was just amazing really.”
Benitez’s views on investing in youth
Unfortunately for Cass, he has only featured in one more matchday squad for Newcastle’s first-team since Benitez’s departure but it’s certainly nice to see how highly he thinks of Benitez for giving him an opportunity to be part of the first-team squad.
After leaving Newcastle, Benitez discussed the importance of investing time and money in youth via a blog post, while in an article for The Athletic, the manager indicated that one of the reasons for his departure from the North East club was that Newcastle didn’t want to invest as much as he’d have liked in the academy.
Do you share Benitez's views on academy investment?
Perhaps all of this, as well as the fact he handed Newcastle academy product, Cass, his first appearance in a matchday squad, is an indication of how highly he values bringing players from the academy through to the first-team and maybe it’s understandable why Cass appreciates him for that.
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