Benitez visits Anfield for the first time since he left the club in 2010 when his
Chelsea side play the Reds today, and the Brazilian has hailed the Spaniard for the role he played in his improvement as a player.
"He was maybe one of only a few people who really believed in me when I first came to the club and he gave me the chance to prove people wrong," Lucas is quoted as saying in the club's match-day programme.
"Everyone knows the importance of Rafa, and especially for me. I'll always be grateful for that because if it had been another manager maybe I wouldn't have still been here.
"Rafa was very important for my development and it will be strange [to compete against him], but we know how football works. He is now trying to do well for Chelsea and we hope we can beat him."
Lucas was signed by Benitez for the Reds in 2007 and the midfielder has since played over 200 games the club.