Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

The inside story on Julen Lopetegui's remarkable sacking as Spain coach

The inside story on Julen Lopetegui's remarkable sacking as Spain coach

With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was sacked as national team coach after accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season.

His decision to take the job angered senior figures within the Spanish FA, particularly the recently appointed president, Luis Rubiales, who was only made aware a matter of minutes before it was publicly announced by Real.

Rubiales continued; "I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger".

"We thank Julen for everything that he has done, because he is a great person, who is responsible for us being in Russian Federation", the head of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales, said. "We are left in a very hard situation", he said. "We have been compelled to make this decision".

The Spanish football association (RFEF) announced the sacking of national team coach Julen Lopetegui in a press conference on Wednesday.

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The announcement came just a day before the start of the World Cup in Russian Federation, and two days before Spain's opening game against Portugal.

"There's a lot to do".

The Spanish giants announced that the current Spanish national team boss Julen Lopetegui will take up the role at the Bernabeu after his commitment with them ends after this summer's World Cup in 2018.

Spain face European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday in a clash that caught the eye even before a series of astonishing events unfolded. "Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled".

"The values of the national team are above everything", he said on Twitter.

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It is believed that a contingent of players led by Captain Sergio Ramos were against the move and wanted Lopetegui to continue at least until the World Cup.

Hierro was formerly a defender for Real Madrid and finished playing soccer with the English club Bolton in 2005.

Lopetegui became Spain manager in 2016 following Vicente del Bosque's retirement, and remained unbeaten through his reign. Rubiales repeatedly dodged questions over whether he had taken their advice before making the decision to fire the coach.

Speaking just three weeks ago after signing his new Spain contract, the former Porto boss said: "I'm grateful for the confidence placed in me and in my staff".

Already part of the backroom staff in Russian Federation, he is understood to have a good relationship with the squad, and as an 89-cap veteran of the national team nobody can suggest he does not know how tournament football works. "I know the circumstances and Julen's work has been fantastic and I wish him all the best", he said.

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