"I am here to say that the board has just decided, difficult decision, especially for me, to end contract of Rafa as first-team coach," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told reporters.
On Tuesday, Marca reported Benitez did not find out about his dismissal until Perez confirmed it at the press conference.
"One more thing they've done to me," Benitez reportedly said.
Benitez later released a statement speaking on his time at the club:
Now, at the end of my time as first team coach of Real Madrid,I would like to use this article to say goodbye to everyone at every level of the club. I want everyone at the club from the Board of directors, executives, workers and all of the fans, know that it has been an honour and privilege to be in charge at this club.were I grew up as a person, player and coach from the lowest categories through to the first team. As a madridista from Madrid, steeped in the traditions and values of this institution, which I learned in the old sports city of Castellana, it has been an honour to work for these colours. I would especially like to thank everyone at the new sports city and the Santiago Bernabéu who since my first steps through the door have supported me and made my work easier. Thanks to all for helping.
With all that I have said still in mind, I would like to wish good luck to Zinedine Zidane,my successor, and his staff. To all the players, coaches and staff in both Valdebebas and Bernabéu, I wish all the best and also good luck.
With all my respect and thanks... HALA MADRID and NOTHING ELSE.
"Firstly I would like to thank the club and the president for giving me the chance to coach this team," Zidane said at the press conference. "We have the best club in the world and the best fans in the world."
Hired last summer as a replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, Benitez departs the Bernabeu with Real four points off the top of La Liga and ejected from the Copa del Rey.
Not only did Benitez's results not meet the high standards expected at the club, but the team's style of play under the Spaniard was widely disliked.
The 4-0 defeat to hated enemy Barcelona in November's El Clasico was undoubtedly a low point for Benitez, but his problems in the Spanish capital cannot be attributed to just one game.
The fact is that Los Blancos rarely looked comfortable applying his tactics on the pitch. A club with a fine tradition of expansive, attacking football and a plethora of forward-thinking stars was always a strange match for such a pragmatic manager.
Benitez established a knack for grinding out results with Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea, but his cautious style just doesn't suit Madrid.
Frankly, it's strange Los Merengues would make the same mistake again after Jose Mourinho's time in charge. Like Benitez, the self-styled "Special One" preached a brand of football the Madrid faithful never warmed to.
Credit to Mourinho, though, who did at least get his players to buy into his approach. Benitez never did the same.
His formations changed too often, while the idea to move talisman attacker Cristiano Ronaldo off the left flank and through the middle proved to be a damp squib.
The thumping from Barca at the Santiago Bernabeu prompted protests from Madrid's fans, and Benitez was never able to get them back onside, per the Guardian's Sid Lowe:
Reaction from Madrid's fans. Wow. White hankies.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) November 21, 2015
Benitez never found a strategy that fit his squad. He was unable to get his ideas across, and that inability cost him his job.