Football
Former Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro would take over as coach of the national team for the World Cup.
Facebook/Julen Lopetegui

In a sensational twist, Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as head coach of the Spanish National team, just 29 hours before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The decision taken by the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) comes within a day of Spanish club giants Real Madrid announcing the appointment of Lopetegui as manager for the upcoming La Liga season. 

At the time of Los Blancos appointment of Lopetegui, it was assumed that he would continue as the head coach of the national side before taking over the reins at Real Madrid.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales revealed the decision during a sensational press conference, which was called at 9.30am on Wednesday but was delayed by an hour and a half.

Rubiales said, “We have been forced to dispense with the national coach, we wish him the best of luck, what the Spanish gets, will have to do with the work he has developed. We have to work on a series of decisions that come two days before the beginning of Russia 2018. There is a lot to do.”

The Spanish association further announced that former Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro would take over as coach of the national team for the World Cup.

Rubiales also revealed the reason for sacking Lopetegui, which he attributed to the latter’s decision to leave the team prior to information on the matter. “I do not feel betrayed, Lopetegui, while he has been with us, has done an impeccable job, another is how this has been done, without knowledge of the federation. We will touch the staff as little as possible, as soon as we have something to communicate, we will do it,” Rubiales said.

Lopetegui was appointed as head coach of the Spanish national side in the middle of 2016, replacing long-term coach Vicente del Bosque. His first game in charge was on September 1, when his side beat Belgium 2-0.

The Spanish contingent at the World Cup will face Portugal in their first match of the group stage. The match will be played on Friday, June 15.