Spain manager Julen Lopetegui has been sacked just two days before their opening World Cup 2018 fixture against Portugal.
It was announced yesterday that the 51-year-old will be taking over from Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager after the World Cup.
The former Porto boss signed a three-year deal with Los Blancos, with the intention of taking over once this month’s tournament was completed.
However, as of this morning, Lopetegui has been informed that his services are no longer needed by the the Spanish international side, 48 hours ahead of their World Cup opener.
During a press conference, it was announced by Spain President Luis Rubiales that Lopetegui would not be taking charge of the side in Russia.
“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish you the greatest of luck,” said Rubiales to (via BBC Sport).
“The negotiation has occurred without any information to the RFEF. Just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled.
“It’s the Spanish team. You cannot do things this way. I admire Julen a lot, I respect him a lot, I think he’s a top trainer and that makes it more difficult to make the decision.
“I don’t feel betrayed. Lopetegui, while he’s been with us, has done impeccable work. I know it’s a very difficult situation. I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do.
“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger.”
Lopetegui had been in charge of Spain for two years after taking on the role back in 2016 and under his management, guided them to the World Cup with relative ease, winning nine out of 10 fixtures while drawing the other against Italy.
In fact, his overall record with Spain heading into this World Cup campaign was exceptional. It stood at 20 matches, 14 wins, six draws, zero losses and his side had scored an incredible 61 goals in that time, averaging just over three goals every match. In no game did La Roja fail to score under Lopetegui’s watch.
It is thought that Lopetegui was a popular man in the Spanish dressing room, with the likes of Sergio Ramos in full support of the manager.