English Soccer: Fans honor Liverpool's Benayoun after recent upturn in form

Israeli has recently become the toast of Merseyside, scoring the crucial winner away to Real Madrid.

benayoun celebrates 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
benayoun celebrates 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
After considering a move away from Liverpool in the January transfer window, everything has fallen into place for Yossi Benayoun in the last month. The Israel captain was reportedly unsettled at the lack of playing time he was receiving from manager Rafa Benitez. However, in recent weeks Benayoun has become the toast of Merseyside, scoring the crucial winner in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 victory away to Real Madrid and then finding the back of the net again in Tuesday night's Premier League win over Sunderland. His influential displays in the Liverpool midfield have seemingly earned him a regular place in Benitez's starting 11, but Benayoun accepts a first team spot can never be guaranteed with the Spaniard. "I have come to appreciate that, at a big club like Liverpool, you can't take anything for granted," he said. "With the number of top players we've got, you accept you are not always going to be playing and that you have to give it everything, when your chance comes along. That is fine with me. If I found myself going three or four months without setting foot on the pitch, it might be different. But as things stand, that is not an issue with me. I feel settled, and I'm happy to be contributing." Benayoun, who was voted as the Liverpool fans player of the month for February, claimed that his goal at the Santiago Bernabeu is already history. "I am also learning how things work here. You can score a very famous goal, an absolutely crucial one, and it will all be forgotten the following day, as far as the manager is concerned. "He only thinks of the next challenge, and that is how it should be. It has taught me you can't celebrate too long or rest on your laurels, and I am already looking at my goal in Madrid that way. "For me, it will only be important if we go all the way and win the Champions League. Otherwise, it will count for nothing." Benayoun also revealed that he had to go into the toilets to speak to his loved ones after the match in Madrid and that Benitez remained calm amidst the post-match celebrations and didn't even congratulate his players after their significant victory. "It was madness in our changing rooms in Madrid last week, after we won, and I had to take my mobile phone into the toilets to call my family. It was the only way I could make myself heard," he added. "Everyone was screaming and shouting, except for the manager, of course. He was his usual calm self. He didn't even congratulate us or shake hands, never mind join in all the hugs and backslapping that was going on. "That's just how he is, and I am beginning to understand why. He is very professional, and he wants us to be the same all the time. He won't stand for any of us getting carried away or feeling we are superior to anyone else. "He likes keeping you on your toes. He only announced the team two hours before kick-off."