Sunday, 22 July, 2018


Here's what Rafa Benitez has previously said about managing Spain

GK David De Gea GETTY GK David De Gea
Noah Ferguson | 13 June, 2018, 23:58

Even before a ball's rolled at Russian Federation 2018, Spain were handed the most sensational news of the week when multiple Champions League victor, Real Madrid, chose to put club before country by announcing La Roja manager Julen Lopetegui as the replacement for Zinedine Zidane from next season.

Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales was reportedly left seething at the news, prompting him to fire the 51-year-old. I have spoken with the players, and I can guarantee that they will do everything they can with the new coaching staff, we are in a very hard situation. "We feel obliged to make this decision".

The news comes just two days before Spain's first game of the World Cup and in the wake of Real Madrid announcing that Lopetigui would be taking over as the club's manager after the World Cup.

Last month, Lopetegui agreed to a contract extension through 2020.

"I have spoken with the players and what I can guarantee is that the players will do everything in their power, along with the new technical team to take the team as far as possible", said Rubiales.

'I do not feel betrayed, the problem is how things have been done with the total absence of participation of the Spanish Football Federation, that is something we can not ignore, Lopetegui is an impeccable professional but the process is important. We have been forced to act. "The important thing is the World Cup and not to think of anything else that can divert you or upset you. I know the circumstances and Julen's work has been fantastic and I wish him all the best", he said.

A peer of Lopetegui's, Hierro was a goal-scoring midfielder who made 601 appearances for Real Madrid, captaining club as well as country.

Rubiales refused to comment on Lopetegui's possible replacement but did stress they would endeavour to affect the squad "as little as possible". In a World Cup nobody gives anything away.

"I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot".

He began his career at Real Valladolid, where he spent two seasons in the first team before moving to the Spanish capital.

However, according to reports in the Spanish media, the players tried to intervene at the last minute to prevent Rubiales sacking Lopetegui.

Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for almost three decades.

The development came a day after it emerged he would be replacing Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager in time for next season.

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