The Royal Spanish Football Federation have sensationally sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before their first match in the World Cup following confirmation of the 51 year-old as the new Real Madrid manager.
Lopetegui, who began his professional career at Castilla and played once for Los Blancos, was confirmed as the new boss at the Bernabeu yesterday, signing a three-year contract only a month after extending his contract as the national side’s boss.
Born in the Basque town Asteasu, Lopetegui was omitted from the other big names in the early running for the job. Such names included; Mauricio Pochettino, Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conte, Guti and Joachim Loew.
The fact Lopetegui would be unable to take over any duties with Real Madrid until after the World Cup had ended was a contributing factor in him not being included in the early favourites. The same was said for the likes of Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina) and Tite (Brazil).
Lopetegui began his managerial career at Rayo Vallecano and went on to coach the Castilla team before venturing into international management with Spain’s underage teams. This proved to be a successful period for the Spaniard as he won the European Championships with both Spain’s Under-19’s and Under-21’s.
Due to his success with the underage national teams, Lopetegui was given the task of taking over from treble winning Vicente del Bosque as Spain’s national team manager. They are yet to suffer defeat after his 20 games in charge. Spain have also scored in all 20 of these games; a record for a new Spain manager.
It is believed that Spain’s current Under-21 manager Albert Celades will take over as manager of the senior squad for the tournament, with director of football Fernando Hierro assisting.