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16th Aug 2018

The Jermaine Pennant-Rafa Benitez story looks too good to be true

Wayne Farry

There was a story about Jermaine Pennant doing the rounds on Twitter recently.

The story, purported to come from Pennant’s new book Mental: Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths and the Beautiful Game, involved the former Liverpool winger apparently discussing his relationship with Rafa Benitez at Anfield.

Despite causing a stir on Twitter, the tale is almost definitely not true, as confirmed by co-author of the book, John Cross.

As his career at Liverpool wound down, it appears Pennant’s relationship with Benitez suffered, as these real quotes from his book suggest: “Just sometimes, he might as well have turned a player into an Xbox, dressed me up like RoboCop and put a picture of my face on it. I’m not a defensive midfielder. I’m not James Milner, who keeps it simple. I’m a flair player and do my own thing. But his constant instructions really restricted me.”

This sort of mixed-metaphor is both damning and utterly confusing in its portrayal of their relationship. Ignoring for a second the mental gymnastics required to understand what it would mean to turn a player “into an Xbox” or dress them “up like RoboCop”, it’s obvious Pennant was not a fan of Benitez.

As such, people didn’t require much encouragement to believe the story which quickly spread on Twitter detailing Pennant’s attempts to make Rafa laugh by “Big tits. Dirty talk. Dressing up. Role play. Threesomes.”

In the story, it’s claimed that Benitez, having listened to Pennant’s attempts to strike up a conversation, simply stands up without making eye contact and walks away.

The final line is: “Right then, I knew I’d never make it big at Liverpool FC.”

As much as people wanted to believe the tale, it has now been confirmed that no such incident took place and will not feature in the book.

Cross, the chief football writer for the Daily Mirror, told SportsJOE that while this does not sound far from the sort of story Pennant might tell, it does not feature in Mental. Obviously, if it had been true, it would have been a juicy angle on which to serialise the book.

Another lesson, as if it were needed, to not believe everything you read or hear on the world wide web.