Sunday 16 June 2019

Spain players pleaded with Spanish FA not to sack Julen Lopetegui in two-hour stand-off

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui
Spain manager Julen Lopetegui

Miguel Delaney

The Spanish squad pleaded with their federation to try and save Julen Lopetegui’s job, but president Luis Rubiales felt duty-bound to take the decision, having been “furious” with how the coach’s pending move to Real Madrid came about.

In a sensational and unprecedented story on the eve of the World Cup, Spain have sacked the 51-year-old, after it was confirmed that he had agreed to succeed Zidane at the Bernabeu.

Madrid president Florentino Perez however only informed Rubiales five minutes before Tuesday’s announcement – three days before their opening World Cup game against Portugal in Sochi – and this was a situation the federation boss was said to find unpalatable.

Already minded to dismiss Lopetegui on Tuesday, the Spanish squad got wind of this, and made a concerted plea to Rubiales to keep the coach in a meeting that lasted over two hours and delayed the planned press conference to discuss the situation by 90 minutes.

 The argument made by the players was that trying to win the World Cup should be prioritised above all else, and that the federation should on this occasion “swallow their pride” for the good of the team.

Rubiales however felt honour-bound to take his decision.

Fernando Hierro has taken over as manager for the tournament.

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