Spaniard Benitez quit Serie A side Napoli last week and returns to his boyhood club to succeed Italian Carlo Ancelotti, sacked after Real failed to either defend their Champions League crown or win the domestic league or Cup.
A former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Chelsea manager, Benitez began coaching in Real’s youth academy in 1986 after injury ended his hopes of becoming a professional player.
He is the 10th coach to be appointed by president Florentino Perez during the construction magnate’s two six-year stints at the helm of the world’s richest club by income and appeared close to tears when he was presented to the media at the Bernabeu stadium.
“It’s an emotional day returning here to my home,” Benitez said. “I have a good technical team behind me and I hope things go well, that we win titles and the team plays well.”
Benitez, who has signed a three-year contract, told a later news conference he was aware he would not be given time to bed in and that, given the quality of the squad, which he called the best he had managed, the team would have to be competitive from the start.
“When you have a roster with such quality you have to attack, to try to score goals, and to win if possible playing attractive football,” he told reporters.
Real would be monitoring the transfer market to see if there was room to strengthen the team, he added.
Ancelotti was dismissed a year after ending 12 years of Champions League failure by leading Real to a record-extending 10th European crown in 2013-14.
After leaving Real in 1995, Benitez graduated to several modest teams in Spain as he developed his coaching philosophy.
He made his name with Valencia, whom he led to two La Liga titles before leaving for Liverpool, where he won the FA Cup and the Champions League.
He moved on to Inter Milan but was sacked three months into the 2010-11 season and had mixed fortunes during his last job with Napoli.
They won the Coppa Italia last term and finished third in Serie A but lost to Lazio in Benitez’s last match in charge to finish fifth, missing Champions League qualification.
(Writing by Iain Rogers; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Justin Palmer)