REDS fan Pat Wild has been besotted with Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benitez ever since he walked into her pub.
So Pat, the landlady of the Grosvenor Arms in Handbridge, felt a real connection with her hero when he guided her beloved team to victory in the Champions' League final last Wednesday.
The whole pub was cheering on Rafael Benitez who turned up at the Grosvenor Arms with his wife just a few weeks before the historic victory.
It was during Cheltenham Gold Cup week that the Liverpool manager walked in off the street and ordered a Sunday roast for him and his spouse. At first nobody was really sure if it was him.
'There was a difference of opinion,' said Pat. 'Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask him. I said 'are you the Liverpool manager?' He said, 'that's correct' with a Spanish accent. I was gobsmacked.
'He was so sincere and quietly spoken. It felt like he was part of the pub. He fits in with real people.'
Even Pat's partner Alan, an Evertonian, had to admit that Benitez was 'a lovely man'.
Pat, who had her picture taken with the Anfield legend, has since named the area of the pub where the manager ate his meal as 'Benitez lounge' and hopes he will return one day.
'We get a lot of Liverpool supporters in here. They've got to be because I am,' she said jokingly. 'A few got autographs and I had a chat with him.
'I was taken aback by his gentle manner,' said Pat, who openly admits she is smitten, 'He's got a lovely smile.'
It transpired that Benitez was in the area because his daughter was attending a party at a friend's house nearby. He and his wife had decided to spend quality time together by going for a wander.
Word of Benitez's presence spread fast and before long a group of young Liverpool fans were pressing their noses against the windows, with one dressed in his tracksuit with a ball under his arm.
The Liverpool manager's link with the area has sparked rumours the football mastermind could be about to buy a property in the leafy suburbs of Curzon Park but so far The Chronicle has been unable to substantiate the speculation.
'It would be nice to think it was true,' said Pat, but she is not convinced.
Meanwhile, Pat, whose customers reckon she lives up to her surname of 'Wild', is claiming credit for the turnaround in Liverpool's fortunes at half-time in last week's game.
Recounting the emotional rollercoaster ride, she said: 'When the first goal went in I was upset. When the second goal went in I was really upset. When the third goal went in I was near to tears.'
Pat was so fed up she decided to join members of the pub's ladies darts team for a practice session in a room away from the TV.
But she wasn't entirely surprised when the game started to go Liverpool's way.
'I said they were going to come back. I said just wait till Benitez moves them. They will come back with a vengeance.
'I hit the treble 20 when the first Liverpool goal went in.
'I think he must have promised them all a meal in here!'
And Pat to carry on throwing her darts.
'I thought if the darts are going in at the same time as the goals then that suits me fine.'