'I hated Rafael Benítez at Liverpool - but leaving Anfield remains one of my biggest regrets'

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images).
Danny Murphy celebrates after scoring for Liverpool in 2002 -Credit:(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images).

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy admits he made a mistake when leaving Anfield. Murphy, now 47, joined the Reds in 1997 from Crewe Alexandra and made over 200 appearances for the club.

He was part of the team that won a treble under Gérard Houllier in 2000/01 and became a regular under the Frenchman. But the arrival of Rafael Benítez in 2004 saw Murphy slip down the pecking order.

The ex-England international was told by Benitez that he had no future at the club and subsequently moved to fellow Premier League side Charlton that summer. But he looks back on his Anfield exit and wishes he did more to try and stay.

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"One of my biggest regrets is leaving Liverpool. I should have waited but I was made to feel that I had to go. I hated Rafa at the time but he was honest, and that is all you want," he told the Ben Heath podcast.

"He brought in Xabi Alonso and Luis García, and he said to me 'I know you want to play but you aren't going to feature under me'. He told me there were clubs in for me but I should have said 'I don't care, I am staying and you will end up playing me'.

"It may have been a mistake but when I look back, I should have had more about me and taken that risk. It is very difficult to understand your own value. I had good options with three Premier League clubs and even if I had stayed for another year, I would still have had them.

"I just l loved playing and hated being on the bench. It was a huge regret. I should have waited until I was kicked out of the door, or my contract ran out because it was my club."

Murphy was joined by Michael Owen in leaving Liverpool that summer as the striker moved to Real Madrid. He struggled with injuries in Spain and returned to the Premier League with Newcastle before eventually joining Liverpool's fierce rivals Manchester United.

That move left Owen's reputation at Anfield in tatters but Murphy has defended his former teammate. The BBC pundit added: "He, like me, wasn't particularly wanted by Benítez and he had an opportunity to go to one of the biggest clubs in the world. I don't think he was a traitor for leaving. He got more stick and negative comments because he went to Manchester United.

"He is a strong character and he did win the league at United. The reality is that when he signed, his Liverpool legacy was going to be tarnished. Michael is a resilient guy and you can't take away what he did for Liverpool."

Liverpool.com says: Murphy had a fine Liverpool career but like when most new managers arrive, they want their own players. The same is likely this summer when Jürgen Klopp's successor takes over and some of the current crop may find themselves on the fringes. He still went on to play in the top-flight with Charlton, Fulham and Tottenham and is remembered fondly at Anfield.