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Apr 19, 2013

Lucas out to beat Benitez

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has hailed Rafa Benitez for the important role he has played in his career - but is out to ruin his former manager's weekend.

• Liverpool v Chelsea preview
• Rewind: Special one spooked

Benitez brought Lucas, 26, to Anfield from Brazilian club Gremio in summer of 2007. The midfielder will face his former boss for the first time when Benitez brings his Chelsea side to Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday.

It will be the Spaniard's first return to Anfield as a manager. His family still live in the Wirral village of Caldy, and he has admitted it will be an emotional occasion for him.

Lucas, who took a while to convince Liverpool fans of his value to the side, said he was looking forward to being reunited with a manager he credits with sticking by him during his difficult early days at Anfield.

But he stressed that would not affect his desire to claim all three points and told Liverpool's website: "It will be a strange feeling for me - everyone knows how important Rafa was for me since my first day here.

"He was one of the few that gave me a chance and had the trust to put me on the pitch. He gave me the chance to show that I was capable of playing for Liverpool.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting him again. It has been a long time without seeing him. It will be a nice game to play – and in the game I will try to beat him. For his future, I always wish him the very best."

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