A day after his shock sacking as Spain National Team coach, Lopetegui was officially unveiled as Real Madrid manager at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Lopetegui’s introduction to the club began with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez stating to the media “We wanted to do this event after the WC, after another win by the national team. But series of events mean we are here today, to start a new stage for all Madridistas”.
The sacking did come as a major surprise to a wide range of the footballing world, from players, to other managers, and the man at the centre of all the controversy was Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, and Perez wasn’t slow to give his thoughts on him, by saying it was “an absurd reaction of misunderstanding and pride, aimed at hitting prestige of Real Madrid”. He also said that his favourite enemies are “those who want to hurt the prestige of Real Madrid and damage the image of our club in one of greatest periods of our history”, this was met with a round of applause from the VIPs in attendance, mainly associates, friends and family. “There was no reason at all why Julen Lopetegui should not have been on the Spain national team bench tomorrow. We feel for him that he could not achieve his great goal of success with his country. “We reached an agreement very quickly, in a few hours, and wanted to make a show of transparency, to avoid all rumours and speculation during the tournament.”
Speaking to Lopetegui, when asked about the job, and the task at hand, he simply said “I know which club I am joining, the demands are maximum, so we will give our all to fight to be at the height of the history of the club, and to improve it.” He himself was very emotionally struck by the recent events saying “it was the saddest day of his life, since his mother had died.”
Like Zidane, Lopetegui has already had experience in the Spanish capital, “I came here aged 18 to play for Castilla, to experience madridismo, the values, the loyalty, the loyalty, really. I had the fortune to coach Castilla, and now have this great responsibility to coach Real Madrid. It is a closed cycle, and I am very happy.”
When asked about Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been subject to exit talks once again, Lopetegui said “Cristiano is a player I have always admired, and clearly the best in the world should be at Real Madrid.”
Spain begin their World Cup campaign tomorrow against Portugal, but Lopetegui insisted he remains a loyal Spanish fan, saying “as one more Spaniard I feel part of the national team and are sure they will have a great tournament.” I will support this magnificent group of [Spain] players. In two years I have had four presidents in the federation. We survived with the strength of the squad, the team and that strength can make them world champions.”
But, there is work to be done at Real Madrid in preperation for the new La Liga season, “from tomorrow we will be working in Valdebebas, with the presi and Jose Angel. Whatever happens we will have the best team, no doubt.”
The message given out at this press conference seemed to be that everything between Lopetegui and Real Madrid was done in clear transparency, loyalty and honesty and that Rubiales is the bad guy.