Sporting Director of Spain’s Football Federation (RFEF) Fernando Hierro was named the national team’s new coach for the duration of the World Cup in Russia. Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Association, choked the world after announcing the sacking of Julen Lopetegui on the Eve of the 2018 FIFA World Cup; it was announced that the latter would take over as the head coach of Real Madrid on a three-year contract after the conclusion of Spain’s involvement at the World Cup, which was a wrong call for the FA.
Regarding the scandal, Rubiales stated: “The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before [the Real deal was made public] that he was leaving for Madrid. There is a way that you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.”
Lopetegui leaves his managerial post unbeaten. He managed the Spain team 20 times and won 14 matches, drawing the other six games: the former goalkeeper carried the heavy burden of being the successor of Vicente Del Bosque with tenancy, and demonstrated he was up to the task. His experience was unbeatable, as had coached Spain at youth level extensively, leading the national under-19, under-20 and under-21 sides. His greatest achievements with “La Roja” before arriving at the senior’s team were two: the title at the 2012 European Under-19 Championship in Estonia and, the following year, the U-21 European Championship in Switzerland, with a team who included David de Gea, Koke, Isco and Thiao Alcântara.
Lopetegui while directing the Spain national team during a WC qualifying match.
None of this mattered to Rubiales. He considered unforgivable the behavior of Lopetegui, as just a month after signing a new contract and a mere week before the first World Cup fixture against Portugal, Spain’s Manager was taking time out from preparations to undertake secret negotiations with Madrid to join the club after the end of the tournament.
The man called to replace Lopetegui was one the best players at his time, and a legend in all the sense of the world. Hierro gained his reputation mainly in Real Madrid, appearing in more than 500 official games, and with Spain’s national team, wearing La Roja on nearly 90 occasions, while appearing in four World Cups. With Real Madrid, he won five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League trophies over the course of nearly 15 years.
While his career as a player is memorable, he has little to none experience as manager. Hierro is the first to admit it. Regarding the matter, he said: “I have just one year of experience in [second division] Oviedo, and one year as assistant coach [2014-15 at Real] …Regardless of all that, I would like my team to play well, to compete very well, with quality, possession play, score two or three goals more than the rivals.”
The new manager has not pronounced himself about the rights and wrongs of the sacking. He assumed his role with confidence: Hierro know the tremendous challenge he’s facing but he feels secure about the great team he has in charge. “If I was not convinced we could have a good World Cup, I would not be here” Hierro said. “They are good lads, good sports people, and must take on this reality. It has not been an easy day for anyone but in good faith they will know what they are playing for. Nobody doubts the commitment of these lads, or what they can give.”
Today is the first trial for Hierro and the Spanish Squad, as they will face Portugal in their first World Cup match. We’ll see if Hierro is up to the task!
Read our article “La Masía: Where football excelence and Philosophy combine” (https://foothunch.com/la-masia/) to get a grasp of the amazing revolution that occurred in Spanish Football years ago and explains, among other factors, their amazing quality and latest achievements.