Julen Lopetegui sacked as Spain manager after accepting Real Madrid job

Florentino Perez and Zidane

Julen Lopetegui's position as Spain boss was called into serious question just 48 hours ahead of La Roja's World Cup opener against Portugal, according to furious Spanish press reports on Wednesday (Jun 13), after he was named the new Real Madrid coach.

If the former Porto boss does leave his post, Ferrnando Hierro and Spanish Under-21 coach Albert Celades will be next in line to step in and take over the role.

"We have been forced to dispense with the national coach". On Wednesday, two days before the team's debut, the Spanish federation fired coach Julen Lopetegui after he agreed to become Real Madrid's head coach.

Head of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales: said: 'Hierro told me he is ready to help Spain, he's been very generous, I want to thank him for that. But the federation can not be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement.

Ex-Spain and Madrid defender Fernando Hierro is also with the team in Russian Federation as sporting director, while former U21 boss Albert Celades was part of Lopetegui's coaching team.

Rubiales, though, insists the squad is entirely focused on Friday's match against Portugal in Sochi.

Asked who would be taking over, he added: "We are going to touch as little as possible". We are working on it. "We all know what this means and our responsibilities". "Nobody thought about what was best for the national team". All this is a big blow, but we are training again this afternoon, will stick together and move forward.

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Rubiales does not fear a backlash from players and believes they are still committed to the World Cup.

"I share the decision that Luis Rubiales has taken, it is not an easy situation but I think it is the right thing to do", Xavi said.

And he may hold his first press conference at 5.30pm BST, while the first game of the World Cup between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia is still being played.

"I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger".

Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for almost three decades. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. "We have been compelled to make this decision".

News that Lopetegui would be joining Real Madrid had left many players indignant and perplexed, particularly those who do not play for the capital's team.

"You can't do things like that, five minutes before it's official". "It has been a very hard decision, the most hard for me".

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